Farah ends Britain's long wait in Europe


ATHLETICS:TO THAT eminent list of European 10,000-metre champions – Emil Zatopek, Alberto Cova, and, er Martti Vainio et al – we can now add Mo Farah. Although it should be pointed out that Farah is not strictly European, there’s no doubt this marked a welcome return to the good old days of British distance running.

As if to underline that fact, Chris Thompson made it a British one-two with an equally brilliant run to close, late on, to within three seconds of his compatriot, and claim silver after a photo finish with the Italian Daniele Meucci.

Believe it or not, Britain had never won this event in the 19 editions of these championships. It was about time, really.

And the man they call Fly-Mo truly ruled the show – claiming the gold medal in 28:24.99 with a superb injection of speed over the final lap. Born and raised in Somalia, the 27-year-old Farah has been living in Britain since 1993, and they now rightly count him as one of their own.

Over the closing laps Farah found himself in a nervous duel with Spaniard Ayed Lamdassem, who also has African blood in that he only transferred from Morocco three years ago. In fact there were seven runners of African birth in the field. There really is no escaping them anymore.

Against that backdrop, however, the Europeans still thrived, with Meucci also putting up a great fight over the last lap to get the better of Lamdassem, clocking 28:27.22 – exactly the same time as Thompson.

Although run out of the medals last night, Spain still is looking to underline its continued dominance in European distance running here, but only one of their women’s 800 metres runners – Mayte Martinez – could make it through the cut-throat semi-finals.

Martinez finished third in the second heat in 1:59.12, behind Russia’s Svetlana Klyuka’s 1:58.89.

Ireland’s sole representative Rose-Anne Galligan finished seventh in the same heat in 2:01.76, and although that was some way off qualifying, it improved her personal best by over half a second.

Galligan gave herself every chance, moving onto the shoulder of the leaders down the backstretch, but lacked the finishing speed to maintain that.

Spain will be stunned if they don’t get at least one man into the final of the 1,500 metres, which gets under way later this evening.

The decision to scratch the heats and instead bundle everyone into two semi-finals makes the process that bit more challenging for everyone, including Irish hopefuls Thomas Chamney and Rory Chesser. Chamney goes in the second heat, ranked third fastest this season, and should have enough to secure one of the four automatic qualifying berths, with four more progressing on times.

But he does have two of the Spanish to watch, including Reyes Estévez (33), who won the title back in 1998. There wouldn’t be a more popular winner in the old stadium since Fermin Cacho won the Olympic 1,500 metres in 1992.

Rory Chesser from Ennis goes in the first, and will need to produce something special.

He won’t be shy of trying.

Today's Schedule (times Irish)

7.05am Women’s 20km walk final (Olive Loughnane)

9am Men’s Decathlon – 100m

9.10am Women’s Hammer Q

9.30am Women’s Pole Vault Q, (Tori Pena)

9.40am Women’s 100m, Round 1 (Ailis McSweeney)

10am Men’s Decathlon – Long Jump

10.30am Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase,

Round 1 (Fionnuala Britton, Stephanie O’Reilly)

11am Women’s Hammer Q

11.10am Men’s 800m, Round 1 (David McCarthy)

11.30am Men’s Decathlon – Shot Put

11.50am Men’s 400m Hurdles, Round 1

5pm Men’s Decathlon – High Jump

5.30pm Women’s Discus Final

5.35pm Women’s 400m Semi-finals (Joanne Cuddihy)

6.10pm Men’s 400m Semi-finals (David Gillick, Gordon Kennedy)

6.50pm Men’s 100m Semi-finals (Jason Smyth)

7pm Women’s Long Jump Final

7.15pm Women’s 400m Hurdles Semi-finals

7.25pm Men’s Hammer Final

7.40pm Men’s 1500m Semi-finals (Thomas Chamney, Rory Chesser)

8.05pm Women’s 10,000m Final

8.45pm Men’s 100m Final

8.55pm Men’s Decathlon – 400m