27th May 2011

Farah And Thompson Back To Business


27 May 2011

Double European champion Mo Farah will go head-to-head with compatriot Chris Thompson at both the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix and the Aviva London Grand Prix this summer.

Farah and Thompson, who achieved a memorable 1-2 at the European Championships last summer when representing the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team over 10000m, will drop down a distance for their very own battle of the Brits.

The top distance duo will lock horns in the 5000m – first at Birmingham Alexander Stadium on 10 July, when the city hosts its very first Samsung Diamond League meet, and then four weeks later at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

Last year in Zurich, Farah became the first Briton ever to run the 5000m in under 13 minutes, doing so in a time of 12:57.94 and breaking David Moorcroft’s 28-year record of 13:00.41, while Thompson set a new personal best of 13:11.51 in the 5000m at the 2010 Aviva British Grand Prix in Gateshead.

Farah announced his decision to relocate to Portland, Oregon, USA under the tutelage of coach Alberto Salazar in February, but the announcement of UK dates for his competition diary – ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Daegu this August – signals the importance of a UK-based build-up centred around the Aviva Series.

Farah, who has finished 6th and 7th in the previous two World finals, said: “Competing in the UK is important to me and always will be – I think every competition over the next year or so will be amazing, the whole country is getting geared up for the biggest sporting event in our lifetime and that makes me really excited to come back and compete.

“Obviously 2011 has been a big year for me with a lot of changes. Life in America is going well and so far this year I’ve had only good results, which gives me confidence when I’m looking ahead to the rest of the season, especially the World Championships. I feel like Berlin [World Championships] was such a long time ago now and that I have progressed a lot since then.

“At the moment my plan is to run four Samsung Diamond League meets before the World Championships.  Obviously with the Aviva London Grand Prix being one of the last stops before Daegu, I’m keen to get a good result there and look forward to lining up in front of a home crowd.”

Tickets are nearly sold out for the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix, where Farah arrives on the back of a whirlwind indoor season which saw him firstly smash the European indoor record at the Aviva Grand Prix at Birmingham’s NIA, before scooping gold at the European Indoor Championships in Paris.

And Farah, who now has won staggering six European titles, has signalled his intent to build on these performances as he looks to replicate his success from the indoor season to the outdoor competitions.

“To get gold medals in Barcelona and Paris was fantastic,” he added. “I don’t feel extra pressure going in to major championships because of my previous performances, I have to think about each race on its own and shut everything else out.

“I’ve competed in Birmingham so many times and I know how much the people there are behind athletics, so the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix is going to be great, and I’m sure I will be lining up amongst the world’s best so fantastic for me to race there. Last time I was in Birmingham, I got the indoor European 5000m record and the crowd really pulled me through that race right up to the finish line so I’m excited to get back to the city.”

Meanwhile, Thompson has already competed at the Walnut Mt. SAC Relays and Stanford Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, both in the USA, as well his impressive performance in the Manchester BUPA Great Run earlier this month where he finished second behind legendary distance runner Haile Gebrselassie.

In fact his performance at Stanford was the fastest 10000m by a Brit for 13 years as he leap-frogged Farah to third on Great Britain’s all-time list.

And the 30-year-old admits he is looking forward to rekindling his rivalry with friend Farah as he looks to build on the eighth place he secured in the 5000m in Spain last year.

He said: “So far 2011 has been mostly about training for me but after the 10000m a couple of weeks ago in Stanford, I’m pleased with the results and I’m definitely happy with my progress, so hopefully it spells out good things for the rest of the season.

“I’ve competed at both London and Birmingham many times before, but it’s always brilliant to run in the UK, especially after my success last year as I get a lot of support from the crowd.

“I’ll be looking to get some good results at both, obviously with the World Championships just around the corner so it’s really important that my performances are at that standard. I’ll be lining up against Mo again, which actually does happen quite often, but it’s always good to race against him and I know that the crowd will fully be behind us.”

Farah and Thompson join an all-star cast of British and international athletes set to head to the UK this summer, adding their names to a growing list of stars already signed to the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix and Aviva London Grand Prix meets. Asafa Powell (100m), Tyson Gay (100m), Mark Lewis-Francis (100m), Christine Ohuruogu (400m), Sanya Richards-Ross (400m), Jenny Meadows (800m), David Oliver (110m hurdles), Phillips Idowu (triple jump), Andreas Thorkildsen (javelin throw) and Carmelita Jeter (100m, 200m) will all be in action in the UK this summer, fast building as the marquee destination of  the global league series.  

The Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix will be at the Alexander Stadium on 10 July and the Aviva London Grand Prix will be at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre 5-6 August. For tickets or more information go to uka.org.uk/aviva-series or phone 08000 556 056