Farah stays on course for distance double

Luke Phillips
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Mo Farah

Britain's Mo Farah competes in the men's 5000m heats at the athletics event of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Farah remained on course for a distance double after safely negotiating his passage into the final of the 5000m

Newly-crowned Olympic 10,000m champion Mo Farah remained on course for a distance double after safely negotiating his passage into the final of the 5000m on Wednesday.

Farah, 29, timed 13min 26.00sec in finishing third in his heat of the 12-and-a-half lap race won by Ethiopian-born Azeri Hayle Ibrahimov.

"It was pretty difficult, pretty hard," said Farah. "The 10K took more out of me than I thought, but I've got a couple of days to recover."

Kenyans Isiah Koech and 2008 bronze medallist Edwin Soi shared early pace-making duties, before Australian Collis Birmingham and Ibrahimov took over.

Farah had to fend off Hagos Gebrehiwet with five laps to go as the Ethiopian cut across the Oregon-based Briton, drawing gasps from the 80,000-capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium who roared every time Farah passed.

More groans came when Farah, opting to run wide to avoid the hustle and bustle of the group, was clipped by Lopez Lomong, the former Sudanese refugee now running for the United States.

"I got caught so many times. I have a very long stride so that's why I got caught," Farah said. "It was really rough, like being in the ring.

"There was lots of pushing and shoving so it was just a matter of staying out of trouble, but that's what happens in the heat. The final will settle down.

"My body was a bit tired and I was not as fresh for the 5K as some of the other runners. I think it showed out there. It wasn't easy out there but I managed to qualify and I'm looking forward to the final.

"I've got to recover well and look forward to the final. I've just got to forget about what I've done and everything else and just rest up."

Farah admitted that his rousing victory in Saturday's 10,000m had set him as a target, but that he was feeling "zero pressure".

"I'm not putting any pressure on myslef and it's amazing to have the crowd... I want to do well because of the crowd," he said.

"I'm the Olympic champion at 10,000m so obviously everyone has eyes on me and they're thinking Mo is going to be out there. But in a way I've got to respect everybody and just go out on the start line on Saturday and just do the best I can."

At the bell, Ibrahimov and Gebrehiwet made their move, taking the two Kenyans, Lomong and Farah with them.

Ibrahimov kicked down the home stretch for the win while Farah eased up to come home in a comfortable third, with the first five of each heat automatically qualifying along with the next five fastest finishers.

Farah further cemented his status as the British people's favourite by first waiting on the track to warmly embrace the final finisher in his heat, Rene Herrera of the Philippines, and then staying on to watch American training partner Galen Rupp qualify from the second heat.

Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia won that heat in 13:15.15, with the top eight finishers all clocking faster times than any winning Olympic time over the distance.

Gebremeskel will be joined by compatriot Alamirew, another Kenyan in the shape of Thomas Longosiwa, Lagat and Morocco's Abdaalti Iguider, fresh from winning bronze in Tuesday's 1500m.

Rupp will be accompanied in Saturday's final by Kenyan-born teammate Bernard Lagat, the 2007 world champion in the 1500 and 5000m.