4th June 2021


British distance runners have the twin goals of qualifying for the Olympic Games and enjoying success in the European Cup on Saturday (June 5) at the University of Birmingham.

The Müller British Athletics 10,000m Championships and European 10,000m Cup sees Sir Mo Farah (coach: Gary Lough, club: Newham & Essex Beagles) and Eilish McColgan (Liz Nuttall, Dundee Hawkhill) leading the GB & NI challenge against teams from around the continent, but they will also be striving to seal individual selection for Tokyo.

The event will be streamed on the British Athletics website on Saturday evening and sees Farah joined in the British men’s team by Marc Scott (Jerry Schumacher, Richmond and Zetland), Jake Smith (James Thie, Cardiff), Emile Cairess (Alan Storey, Leeds City), Kristian Jones (Chris Jones, Swansea) and Matt Leach (Phil O’Dell, Bedford & County) (the latter of whom replaces Sam Atkin).

McColgan, meanwhile, is part of a British team that includes Amy-Eloise Markovc (Chris Fox, Wakefield), Jessica Judd (Mick Judd, Blackburn), Jenny Nesbitt (Chris Jones, Cardiff), Verity Ockenden (Tony Houchin, Swansea) and Samantha Harrison (Vince Wilson, Charnwood) (the latter replacing Lily Partridge).

For Farah, it is the four-time Olympic champion’s first 10,000m track race since August 2017. In order to win, the 38-year-old will have to overcome the challenge of team-mate Scott, who ran 27:10.41 earlier this year to go No.2 on the UK all-time rankings behind Farah’s national record of 26:46.57.

On returning from the marathon to the track, Farah said: “I missed it a lot. The 10,000m on the track has been very good to me so I am excited to get back out there and see what I can do.”

Farah has only raced once in 2021 so far when he won the Djibouti Half-Marathon in March in 63:06. However last September he set a world record for the one-hour run in Brussels, whereas a few days later he beat Scott by 12 seconds in the Antrim Coast Half-Marathon in Northern Ireland with 60:27.

In addition to being reigning Olympic champion at 5000m and 10,000m, he has won a total of 10 global track titles in the past decade and is keen to end his career with another Olympic title in Tokyo. First, though, he must beat the Olympic qualifying mark of 27:28.00.

International opposition on Saturday includes the reigning European champion Morhad Amdouni of France, plus Bashir Abdi of Belgium, who has run 27:36.40 and is one of Farah’s training partners.

In addition to the GB & NI team members, the men’s A race features Mohamud Aadan (Paul Oppe, Thames Valley), Tom Anderson (Andy Hobdell, Bingley), Phil Sesemann (Andrew Henderson, Leeds City), James Hunt (Cardiff), Mahamed Mahamed (Idris Hamud, Southampton) and Hugo Milner (Derby).

In the women’s race McColgan is the quickest on paper with a recent 30:58.94 in California which lifted her to No.5 on the UK all-time rankings. Almost exactly 30 years since her mum, Liz, won the world title in Tokyo, Eilish will hope to book her Olympic spot in the GB team to the same city this year.

As for her team-mates in Birmingham, Markovc won the European indoor 3000m title in March with Ockenden taking bronze. Then, in mid-May, Markovc finished less than a second outside the Olympic 10,000m qualifying standard of 31:25.00 with 31:25.91 in California, as Judd finished a fraction behind her in 31:25.98. Ockenden, meanwhile, ran a big 5000m PB of 15:03.51 in the US last month.

There will be new champions in the European Cup races as neither of the 2019 winners – Yeman Crippa of Italy or Lonah Salpeter of Israel – are racing. Brits aside, Albania’s Luiza Gega and Selamawit Teferi from Israel are also contenders, plus a number of domestic runners who have gained entry to the A race courtesy of it being an Olympic trial.

They include Natasha Cockram (Tony Houchin, Micky Morris RT), Charlotte Arter (Chris Jones, Cardiff), Beth Kidger (Joel Kidger, Brighton Phoenix), Clara Evans (Cardiff), Eleanor Bolton (Ribble Valley), Hannah Irwin (James Thie, Cambridge & Coleridge), Kate Avery (Shildon), Mhairi Maclennan (Helen Clitheroe, Preston).

The event was due to be held at Highgate as part of the Night of the 10,000m PBs meeting but was moved to the University of Birmingham due to the pandemic. A live stream will be available via britishathletics.org.uk with live results here.