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Athletics: Mo's in motion

As the nation anxiously eyes what is dished up on our plates, some of the fare at the British Grand Prix indoor meeting at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena yesterday proved to have quality ingredients, although there was, in one instance at least, a hint of half-portions.

Mo Farah stretches away from the field to win the men's 3000 metres 		                   Photograph: PA
Mo Farah stretches away from the field to win the men's 3000 metres Photograph: PA

Mo Farah's appearance, billed as the highlight for the sell-out crowd, seemed to be little more than a public training session.

This is a new era for British athletics: with the governing body rebranded post-Olympics, this was the first televised domestic event in more than a decade to lack title sponsorship, and the first for nearly 20 years not to have the involvement of Ian Stewart as meeting organiser.

At the start of the month Stewart, Scotland's former Commonwealth 5000m champion, acrimoniously, if not entirely unpredictably, left a job in which he managed the biggest promotions budget in world athletics. In his other role, in charge of Britain's distance runners, Stewart took much of the credit for Farah's rise to double Olympic titles. Yesterday's meeting – largely put together before he cleared his desk – was built around Farah's sole indoor race of the year, the 3000 metres.

Farah, however, was the only African-born entrant in the race, his personal best at least 10 seconds faster than any others in the largely domestic field. After working his way from the back of the field, Farah accelerated through the final stages to finish in 7min 42sec – essentially little more than a tune-up after two months of training in Kenya, ahead of a half-marathon in America next Sunday.

Farah's next big outing is a run in the London Marathon in April – but only to the halfway mark. With his debut over the full 26 miles 385 yards pencilled in for spring 2014, Farah is believed to have signed a deal with the London organisers worth at least £320,000 over three years.

"It's one of those things where you've got to test yourself and see what you can do," Farah said of the London event.

"My aim is definitely not to finish," he added. "In 2014 I want to go there and run a decent time. In 2013 it is about practice, and if you can practise, why not?"

Others remain unconvinced. Paula Radcliffe, the women's world record holder for the marathon, described his decision as "a little strange".

"For me," Radcliffe said, "you go into the marathon when you're ready to race it hard."

Which is probably why Farah will not be doing that this year, as he hopes to defend his 5000m world title in Moscow in August, add the 10,000m world title to his collection and chase a world record or two along the way.

Yesterday's final race was in some contrast to the rest of the meeting, such as the women's 800m, where Lynsey Sharp's third place might have been viewed as disappointing, as on the final bend the Edinburgh AC runner could not get on terms or pass her British rival Jenny Meadows, who was racing for the first time in 18 months.

But as the Britons battled down the home straight behind the Russian winner, Ekaterina Poistogova, it drew from Sharp enough of an effort to clock 2:03.07, a lifetime best. Although inside the qualifying standard for next month's European indoor championships in Gothenburg, Sharp says she is unlikely to accept selection.

Two months ago, the European silver medallist switched coaches and moved to Loughborough to work with the American Terrence Mahon.

"I'm doing a couple of indoor meets to work with Terrence in a competitive environment and see how we work together before the outdoors, rather than it being a new thing when the season starts," she said.

Another Scot, Eilidh Child, improved her 400m PB in going to fourth on the UK all-time indoor list. The Pitreavie hurdler, who will be 26 on Wednesday, set off hard on the heels of the American specialist quarter-miler Natasha Hastings. Only in the final dozen strides did Child's domestic rival Perri Shakes-Drayton pass her for second place with a time of 51.37, but Child's 51.50 broke the Scottish record she had set last weekend in Sheffield.

In the women's 3000m, Dundee's Eilish McColgan and Emily Stewart recorded strong improvements – 8:53.17 for fourth by McColgan and 8:59.38 for the Edinburgh AC runner in seventh, though both were outside the European qualifying time.

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