Vernon hoping to win race for Rio Olympic spot

Andy Vernon, left, picked up two medals in the European Championships in Zurich, alongside Mo Farah
Andy Vernon, left, picked up two medals in the European Championships in Zurich, alongside Mo Farah
Runners stream past HMS Victory in the Historic Dockyard

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Andy Vernon is determined to prove his Olympic credentials to Great Britain’s Olympic selectors as he battles to secure a place on the plane to Rio.

The athlete, from Fareham, races over 10,000m tonight at the European Championships in Amsterdam.

He knows he needs to prove his form and fitness with time running out to earn a place on the British team to go to Brazil.

Vernon, 30, has been hampered by injury since sealing 10,000m silver and 5,000m bronze medals at the Europeans in Zurich, Switzerland two years ago.

But he saw his hopes of 5,000m selection for Rio dashed at the trials in Birmingham.

Now his chances of being picked over the longer distance are likely to rest on the outcome in the Dutch capital.

Vernon has the Olympic qualifying standard of 28 minutes exactly from last May.

He has raced just four times in the last 10 months due to injuries but is determined not to give up on the Rio dream.

The athlete, who started his career with Stubbington Green Runners, believes his past record of delivering at major championships should count in his favour.

He said: ‘Last year I had five weeks to prepare for a 10,000m and I ran 27min 42sec.

‘I’ve got a good base, I would say that actually I have two qualifying times, one in the 5,000m and one in the 10,000m.

‘It’s not just my first year of running these times.

‘I’ve run qualifying times good enough to go to these Games for two or three years now.

‘I think I should go. I can’t say I deserve to go, but I think I should go.

‘I hope they can see what I did do last year off equally bad preparations.

‘And in 2014 I had bad preparation going into those championships. I’ve performed time and time again.

‘I’m not giving up. All I can do is prove my fitness.’

Vernon took a step towards doing just that by clocking a season’s best 13min 26.16sec over 5,000m at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Finland last Wednesday.

The bad news for Vernon is Rio selection could be taken out of his hands in Amsterdam.

There is only one 10,000m spot up for grabs, with Ross Millington guaranteed qualification and Mo Farah also certain to go.

Wales’ Dewi Griffiths will get it if he runs the qualifying time, having beaten Vernon to a top-two finish at the 10,000m trial in May.

The good news for Vernon is that Griffiths’ personal best is more than half a minute outside the qualifying time so he has plenty of work to do.