European Athletics 2010: Mark Butler's predictions
European Athletics Championships 2010 Venue: Barcelona Dates: 27 July - 1 August Coverage: Watch live on BBC HD, BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Sport website (UK users only); Live coverage on BBC Radio 5 live; Highlights of the biggest events on demand online (UK only)
Farah targets Euro gold
By Mark Butler
BBC Sport's athletics statistician
One of my early memories of televised athletics was the wonderful finish to the 1974 European 10,000m, where Tony Simmons so nearly took a gold medal on the first night of the championships.
As an excited 14-year-old, I recorded David Coleman's commentary of the finish on a C60 cassette and played it again and again.
For a moment it looked as if Britain would claim it's first ever European title in that event, but after 28 minutes of running Tony fell short by three hundredths of a second.
Nevertheless his silver set the team off to an excellent championships, and the team was welcomed home by a record crowd at the seminal "Coke" international meeting at Crystal Palace which brought a new level of popularity to athletics.
Thirty-six years later, our men are still waiting for that first 10,000m gold and here we are again at the start of a European Championships. This time we have two contenders - Mohamed Farah and Chris Thompson - who are more than 30 seconds quicker than the rest of the field this year.
One of them could make British distance running history, take gold, and lift the entire team for the week ahead.
Four years ago in Gothenburg the British showing was moderate, with just one gold from the relay on the last day, which was regrettably overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Dwain Chambers on his return from a doping ban.
In the intervening years Britain have fared well at championships; in Osaka 2007 they could claim three unofficial European champions - athletes who were the highest-placed Europeans in their event at the World Championships.
In Beijing 2008 it was five, then in Berlin at last year's Worlds there were as many as 11 events where the first European home was British.
But being the top European in the world and winning the European title are two different things. For a start there are many more Europeans in action in Barcelona, a record number in fact.
Second, so many of GB's top women are injured or unavailable including the likes of Christine Ohuruogu and Mara Yamauchi, who I feel could have won clearly from the fields we have here.
Finally for most athletes a European medal will mean more than a top-six placing in a world final.
Motivation will be greater and certainly that is true of the host nation Spain. It is the Spanish men who will be provide biggest danger to Mo and Chris on Tuesday night, but hasn't that country already won enough in sport this month?
My rough prediction is that Britain will fare batter than the 11 medals they took in Gothenburg, but not quite as well as those 11 "virtual" golds from Berlin (plus five silvers and two bronzes).
Below are my picks of who I think will win gold in each event.
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