Farah Sails Into 3000m Final At European Indoors

He's the clear favorite for the gold.

He’s the clear favorite for the gold.

By David Monti (c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

PARIS (04-Mar) — Despite an awkward delay which saw the athletes called to the starting line three times in the first heat before the gun was actually fired, Britain’s Mo Farah qualified easily for tomorrow’s 3000-meter final on the first day of the European Indoor Championships here this morning.

Farah, 27, is the defending champion from these championships in Torino in 2009. “Oh man, there was just loads of waiting around leading up to it as well,” said Farah who won the first of three heats in 8:02.36 after taking the lead on the backstretch of the final lap to pass Portugal’s Rui Silva. “We were held in the call room as well at least 15 minutes, and we couldn’t even do strides.” He continued: “You just have to deal with it; everybody has to deal with it.”

Silva, and Italy’s Daniele Meucci, finished just behind Farah in 8:02.69 and 8:02.71, respectively, to advance to the final, too. Silva, who has won three gold medals at these championships in the 1500m, said he was making a concerted effort to move up in distance as the 33 year-old’s career enters its latter stages. “It was very tactical in the beginning,” Silva said of the race. “I’m very happy to be in the final.” He added: “I’m trying to improve my distance, to move to the 5000-meters and 10,000-meters.”

Spain’s Jesus España, three times a bronze medalist at 3000-meters in these championships, finished third in the second heat behind Azerbaijan’s Hayle Ibrahimov (8:00.36) and France’s Florian Carvalho (8:00.90). España deliberately slowed in the final 50 meters to conserve his energy for tomorrow. “I felt a little bad at first,” España said in English of his race. “But for me, that is normal. “I felt better and better towards the end. I want to run well for tomorrow, to fight for a medal, possibly the gold.”

France’s Yohan Durand won the third and final heat in 8:01.24, in a sprint finish over Turkey’s Halil Akkas (8:01.38). Britain’s Andy Baddeley, who looked over his left shoulder twice during the final 25 meters to make sure he had the third and final automatic qualifying position locked up, finished third in 8:01.56. “It was a nice aerobic workout, getting into the rhythm,” explained Baddeley. “It’s my second 3-K of the year, and I’m excited to see what I’ll do tomorrow.”

Farah, who set the British indoor record for 5000m in Birmingham on February 19, is clearly the favorite to take gold. Now fully under the coaching of three-time ING New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar, Farah looked relaxed and confident after his heat. “Obviously, you’ve got to take that heat as a final,” said Farah who ran in last place in the early laps. “And, once you get through that heat, you get ready for the final. That’s my main aim, and save as much energy as you can. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”