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Farah successfully defends 5000 title at Europeans

  • Great Britain's Mo Farah poses with the national flag after winning the Men's 5000 meter final at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, Finland, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

HELSINKI: Defending champion Mo Farah won the 5,000 meters at the European Championships with consummate ease on Wednesday to flaunt he was ready for the London Olympics.

Making the most of his only race at the Europeans, Farah took control with 2 kilometers to go and put in a blistering last lap.

"I consider London to be the big one and I'm looking forward to that," he said.

His unmatched pace relegated German Arne Gabius to silver and Polan Arikan of Turkey to bronze.

It was the only gold-medal event on the opening day of the championships.

On a cool, damp evening at Helsinki's historic 1952 Olympic Stadium, Farah finished in a slow 13 minutes, 29.91 seconds and still held an edge of 1.92 seconds over Gabius.

Farah has been unbeaten in the 5,000 this season, and the year's top performer after winning the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, in 12:56.98.

Instead of hanging round for Saturday's sapping 10,000 to repeat his long-distance European double of two years ago, Farah was bound for the French Pyrenees on an early morning red-eye flight on Thursday for more training.

Even if it was as damp as his training grounds in Oregon, temperatures were a lot cooler at 17 degrees trackside.

He warmed up with a grey, woolen cap, and quickly dispensed of his shades early in the race as conditions became increasingly overcast.

With a big pack of 25 at the start, Farah took the wise route and started out dead last, knowing there was time enough to catch up over a dozen laps.

He steadily made his way up the pack before hitting the front with five laps to go. A half dozen stayed with him till the bell, but no one could match a final 400 at a 53.69-second pace.

He will train in the rarified air of Font Romeu and briefly come back for the July 13-14 Diamond League meeting in London and a 3,000 race, before shuttling back to the Pyrenees to finish off his Olympic preparations.

He will be hitting the Olympic village only a few days ahead of the Aug. 4 10,000, the first of his two long-distance events.

Farah didn't run the 1,500 final at the British trials last weekend and needed one more good 5,000 before heading to the London Games. Anything less than a gold would have been considered a disappointment.

He clinched a 5,000-10,000 double at the Barcelona Europeans in 2010, but he decided against adding a 10,000 this time. His real test will come in the Olympics from Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and Bernard Lagat of the United States.

In the 100, another defending champion had a good time. Christophe Lemaitre easily won his semifinal despite a slow start to set up a fight for gold on Thursday with French compatriot Jimmy Vicaut and Norway's Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, the day's top performer with 10.13 seconds.

Lemaitre won a sprint triple at the last Europeans, adding the 200 and sprint relays to his 100 gold. Because of the upcoming Olympics, he is limiting his schedule at the five-day event and cut the 200.

 
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