Birmingham: Farah, Fraser-Pryce, Merritt and Jeter pose doing the 'Mobot', next to a whicker statute the Mobot pose (Jean-Pierre Durand) © Copyright
Feature Birmingham, UK

Birmingham Press Conference Summary

Mo Farah arrived at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix - Samsung Diamond League press conference at the Birmingham canal-side fresh from the maternity suite of a London hospital where his wife gave birth to twin girls yesterday (24).

He and his wife have yet to name the children so he has not yet prepared the gold medals to hang round their necks because he wants their names engraved on them.

"It’s a completely different experience," he said comparing being present at childbirth and winning double Olympic gold. "It was a relief," he added, as well as admitting on a personal level that apart from the twins arriving the last two weeks have been "crazy".

But he is looking forward to meeting the British public tomorrow (26) at the Alexander stadium where a sell-out 13,000 await their hero as he attacks Steve Ovett’s national record.

80 percent of the tickets had been sold for this meeting after Farah won the 10,000m in London, but then when he took the 5000m as well there was an avalanche of requests for the remaining tickets.

"It is very exciting to be here," he said about his Two Mile race tomorrow. "Not as exciting as the Olympic Games, of course, but still exciting."

Some publicity came out pre-Games about his twin brother in Somaliland and Farah confirmed that he had phoned his family in Somalia after winning double gold and that they were "really excited" for him.

But he did insist that Britain was "where he was brought up and is my country," just in case there was some confusion.

Speaking of the noise in the stadium that was so loud it distorted the official photo-finish picture he said: "There are no words to describe it. I don’t think I will ever experience that again. It just kept getting louder and louder. [Bernard] Lagat said he could tell where I was in the field by listening to the crowd. Every time I made a move the noise level increased."

Having done the hard bit winning double Olympic gold, Farah now realises that his athletics is about to get harder: "It is important to stay motivated because when you are at the top more people want to beat you." Tomorrow we shall see.

Fraser-Pryce delays legendary status until 2016

Motivation was also the keyword for 2008 and 2012 100m gold medallist, Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who insists she can hardly be called a legend like her compatriot, Usain Bolt, but that, "If I win in 2016 and become the first woman to win three 100m titles in a row then maybe I will become a legend."

Having stumbled coming out of the blocks in the London Diamond League and having a slight stutter in Lausanne where she was edged by America’s Carmelita Jeter, Fraser-Pryce admitted there was a problem, but that, "there are still three or more races to work on it".

2011 was a down year for her – if you can call a year with a season’s best 10.95 a down year – but she insisted it made her more determined: "It set me back really bad, but it motivated me. I became a professional at the age of 21 and every year I get more motivation."

The theme of women sprinters being side-lined compared to the men came up for discussion and though she conceded that Bolt’s show was worth the attention: "We work just as hard, we are very competitive and try to put on a good show."

That led to a discussion of FloJo’s World record of 10.49, a time that Fraser-Pryce was overawed by – "phenomenal", she called it, but returned to her theme of improving each year. At the moment, her lifetime best stands at 10.70 from when she won the Jamaican title. So maybe in four years...?

This is the first time she has been in Birmingham and she is aware of the phenomenal support Jamaican athletes get from the local Jamaican populace: "We get a lot of people greeting us on the street and see their pride and joy. I hope we can give them something to cheer about because they don’t have the opportunity to see us normally."

The Jamaican quartet came off badly in the Olympic 4x100m final compared to the Americans’ winning World record of 40.82. Was there any chance of challenging that time in the future? "We all live in different places," she said, meaning it was difficult for the Jamaican squad to get together to practise, but "all of us are home for Christmas." So Moscow next summer will witness the next chapter of this particular saga.

Jeter thinks FloJo’s time can be beaten

Carmelita Jeter used the example of the 4x100m World record as a basis for the argument that FloJo’s 10.49 is attackable. "They said the Relay time was untouchable so I don’t believe this can’t be done," said Jeter referring to the 100m world record. "If someone did it then it can be broken, I do believe anything can be broken. One day, eventually."

Jeter also touched on the subject of women’s sprinting versus men’s: "Sometimes we get short changed. We are running fast, but we don’t get recognition."

In Lausanne on Thursday night she clocked 10.86, the same time as Fraser-Pryce and in the Olympic final it was 10.75 to 10.78 in the Jamaican’s favour. These are some of the fastest times ever seen in women’s sprinting. "We get overshadowed, but we are competing at a high level," she insisted.

As for rivalry between American and Jamaican sprinters: "it is no big thing, we don’t dislike each other," explained Jeter dispelling any notion of animosity between the two camps.

Merritt to try for World record

After his false start in Lausanne, Aries Merritt said he false starts "once a year" which implies that in the Alexander stadium it would be business as usual. He also got disqualified in New York so he has well exceeded his quota for the year.

The reason given for the Thursday disqualification was that he was keen to attack the World record (12.87 Dayron Robles CUB). "The World record is attainable," he said. "I wanted to do it in Lausanne, so I shall try for it here."

Merritt had a variable year 2011, but this year his consistency has been remarkable. Apart from his two DQs, he has only lost twice out of 18 starts, including heats. He owns the five fastest times in the world for 2012 and in the Olympic final ran a lifetime best 12.92 into a slight headwind. What did he put this high level of consistency down to?

"This is the first time I have been healthy for most of the year," he explained. "Last year I missed months of training through injury."

Although it is not mentioned in most stats, Merritt is capable of a sub-10sec 100m. Was he thinking of trying the short sprint? "Just because you can run sub-10 does not mean you can challenge guys running 9.5" he said, dismissing any notion that he was considering a switch.

Michael Butcher for the IAAF