Farah 'out to lay down London marker'

27 June 2012 / 08:02

Mo Farah will look to boost his Olympic preparations with a successful defence of his European 5,000 metres title on the opening day of competition in Helsinki.

Farah did the long-distance double in Barcelona two years ago before adding 5,000m gold and 10,000m silver at the World Championships in Korea last year.

And although the 29-year-old will only contest Wednesday's 5,000m final this time around, he will be keen to reproduce the sort of form which saw him storm to the top of the world rankings and defeat several of his biggest rivals in Oregon earlier this month.

Farah came in for some criticism for pulling out of the final of the 1,500m at the weekend's Olympic trials in Birmingham, but UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee had no problem with the decision.

"I understand the criticism but I understand the decision," said Van Commenee, who concedes Britain will not come close to matching the record 19 medals they won in Barcelona as many athletes concentrate on Olympic preparation.

"It was his intention to run the final but after the race he spoke to his coach (Alberto Salazar) and they thought to run properly here it would be better to skip the final. There is also a European title he wants to defend. He needs a 5k somewhere at the end of June and they are not easy to find."

Farah has improved enormously since moving with his wife and family to train under Salazar in Oregon, with Van Commenee admitting he could not have predicted just how good the Somalia-born athlete would become.

"I helped him to make the decision to go to the States knowing there was much more to come, but you can never predict how much better," Van Commenee added.

The 5,000m is the only final on the opening day in Helsinki, but Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Mark Lewis-Francis are also looking to impress in the heats and semi-finals of the men's 100m.

However, with teenager Adam Gemili qualifying for the Olympics and Dwain Chambers winning the trials, Van Commenee admitted it would take "something incredible" for anyone to present a better case for selection than the controversial former drugs cheat before Sunday's deadline.