Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah will not defend his 10,000m title in Tokyo after he fell short in a last-gasp attempt to secure the qualifying time.
The 38-year-old finished in 27 minutes 47 seconds on the first day of the British Championships in Manchester, 19 seconds outside the automatic selection time.
Farah also missed the required time in an Olympic trial three weeks ago.
With his road career seemingly over, his career options are fast dwindling.
“I have had a wonderful career,” he said on the track afterwards. “It is a tough one – If I can’t compete with the best I’m not just going there to finish in a final. Tonight shows it’s not good enough.”
Farah’s previous shot at qualifying for the Olympics, after more than three years concentrating on road running, was hampered by a left ankle niggle.
Reports from his high-altitude training camp in France were that his injury had cleared and his form improved since that Birmingham outing.
However in cool, windy conditions in Manchester, Farah could not maintain the necessary pace set by Australian duo David McNeil and Ryan Gregson.
Once Belgian training partner Bashir Abdi peeled off with nine laps to go, Farah steadily started slipping behind the required time as his stride shortened and a grimace showed on his face.
A socially-distanced crowd tried to provide the sort of support that swept Farah to his first Olympic 10,000m title on ‘Super Saturday’ in London nine years ago. But ultimately their standing ovation was for his past glories rather than the prospect of more.
World record holder Joshua Cheptegei and his Ugandan compatriot Jacob Kiplimo, the event’s present and future, will instead be gunning for Farah’s crown in the Olympic final on Friday 30 July.
Asher-Smith eases into Saturday’s semi-finals
Earlier in the day Dina Asher-Smith coasted into Saturday’s 100m semi-finals, winning her heat in 11.28 seconds, faster than any of her domestic rivals could muster. Daryll Neita (11.39 seconds) and Asha Philip (11.59 seconds) were next fastest.
“I want to earn the right to be in the next round, which means running well,” she said.
“I always believed [Tokyo] was going to happen so it’s been quite easy to stay motivated. That goal never changes.”
In the men’s equivalent, Zharnel Hughes qualified fastest in a time of 10.50 seconds with 21-year-old Jona Efoloko (10.53), CJ Ujah (10.56), Reese Prescod and Eugene Amo-Dadzie (both 10.64) also making sure of their place in the next round.
There were some high-profile casualties in the men’s 400m heats, in which Niclas Baker, British silver medallist last year, went fastest.
Rio 2016 finalist Matt Hudson-Smith pulled up with an injury early on in his heat and, without an Olympic qualifying time, will not make the trip to Tokyo.
Two-time European champion Martyn Rooney, 34, trailed home in his heat in 49.38 seconds, giving an emotional on-track interview afterwards that suggested it might be his final race.
In the women’s 400m hurdles, Jessie Knight, Jessica Turner, Lina Nielsen and Meghan Beesley won their heats to advance to an intriguing final on Saturday.