World and European 5000m champion Mo Farah will return to the scene of his record-breaking run in Birmingham next month as he steps up preparations for his tilt at Olympic gold by competing at the Aviva Grand Prix on 18 February.
Last February Farah smashed the British and European indoor 5000m records at this IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting with a thrilling run of 13:10.60 to take victory ahead of training partner Galen Rupp.
The record-breaking run set up a stellar year for Farah, who went on to win gold over 5000m and silver in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Daegu, Korea, in early September.
Twenty-eight-year-old Farah will be hoping a repeat appearance at a sold-out National Indoor Arena, racing the two-mile event against a world class field, will set up a similarly successful 2012 and ultimately, his maiden Olympic medal.
The two-mile race is a staple event of the Aviva Grand Prix, with three World Records set at the meet in the last dozen years.
While the current world mark of 8:04.35, set by Farah’s great rival Kenenisa Bekele in Birmingham in 2008, looks to be safe this winter, it is tipped Farah could dip under John Mayock’s 10-year British record of 8:17.06 next month.
Farah, who will commence his 2012 season at the Aviva International Match in Glasgow three weeks ahead of his appearance in Birmingham, said the opportunity to contest the world’s premier indoor meet was the ideal start to his Olympic campaign.
He said: “The field at Birmingham will be world class, it always is, and it’s exactly what I need in an Olympic year."
“I don’t want to go to a meet and know that it will be an easy run. Right now I want to be racing against the best and being pushed to run faster – that allows me to work on my race strategy, to keep my head right during the race and to hopefully finish up with a positive result.
“Birmingham’s a pretty special place to me, I’ve competed there so many times and I’ve had some great races there."
“My family are always around when I’m competing in the UK and that’s something I really love. There are so many familiar faces in Birmingham and it’s important for me to keep up those connections now that I’m based in the US.”
In the 12 months since Farah last appeared at the NIA he has set new personal best times over 5000m, 10,000m and the Half Marathon and claimed two World Championships medals in what has been the most successful year of his career to date.
Now Farah, who relocated to Portland in the USA to train under coach Alberto Salazar in early 2011, is intent on posting another strong performance in Birmingham next month to set up what could be a career defining year for the endurance star.
“I love competing at the Aviva Grand Prix and the crowd’s support really gets me going. I always seem to perform well at the meet and of course, I’ll be hoping for a good run in February to start my year off on the right note,” he said.
Since his debut at the Aviva Grand Prix as a 19-year-old in 2003, Farah has set British records over 3000m and 5000m and recorded personal best times over one and two miles at the meet, considered the world’s premier indoor athletics competition.
Farah will be joined on the Aviva Grand Prix start list by Jamaican sprint star Asafa Powell, dual World Championships medallist Kim Collins, world silver medallist Hannah England and track stalwart Helen Clitheroe as the world’s best athletes descend on Birmingham in the crucial countdown to London 2012.
Organisers for the IAAF