Mo Farah is unequivocal. "It's the big one," says the double Olympic champion of Sunday's 5,000m Diamond League race in Birmingham.
"It's a real proper race, there's no one missing in terms of the field, everyone's there pretty much. All the guys who have been competing in the Diamond League and running decent times."
The 30-year-old is keen to seal victory and make headlines for the right reasons after the media furore surrounding Farah these past few weeks: suffering his first outdoor defeat in two years when Edwin Soi of Kenya beat him into second place in Eugene, and then reportedly being the subject of an investigation by Wimbledon officials after he uploaded video footage taken from the Royal Box on Centre Court when he was a guest at the All England club this week. Of the latter, Farah said: "I didn't realise that I had done anything wrong. It was a fantastic event and I was just sharing some of the things I was up to. I took the videos down afterwards."
Birmingham offers Farah the opportunity to showcase what he does best, although up against a tough field his will be a demanding task. At theAlexander Stadium, Farah will face the two fastest 5,000m runners in the world this year, Yenew Alamirew and the 19-year-old sensation Hagos Gebrhiwet, both of Ethiopia. Farah's own season's best of 13min 5.88sec places him just outside the world's top 10 though the Portland-based athlete has said that his time, run in Eugene, had been affected by illness before the race. The European Team Championships in Gateshead last weekend brought Farah a win but a blisteringly fast final lap could not conceal the lack of competition in the field.
"I've been looking forward to this [Birmingham] race after my disappointment at Eugene, so it's important I come out here and try and win the race more than anything else. It's not about the time, it's not about anything, it's just winning the race that's important. So I am looking forward to it." Will the race prove a marker of how things may pan out in the Moscow world championships, when Farah hopes to retain his world title? "It's a good indication, it's very exciting towards Moscow, but I am not thinking that far ahead. I am just taking one race at a time. The most important thing in Birmingham is just winning the race."
With his last Diamond League outing having ended in defeat, Farah has been reminded that even double Olympic champions are only as good as their last race. "Its true," he nods. "I believe that. Yes, you are world champion, Olympic champion, but you can't look at what you did last year or the year before. You're only as good as this race for sure."
While Soi is not in Birmingham, Ibrahim Jeilan is. The Ethiopian left Farah – and British athletics fans – open-mouthed and speechless when he snatched the world 10,000m title out of Farah's hands in the final lap of the race at the 2011 worlds in Daegu. Afterwards Farah admitted that he had barely heard of Jeilan, and had not expected him to be a threat. The Briton has certainly learned his lesson. "I'm going to do my homework and I'm going to make sure I know everybody and what they're capable of," he says.
Joining Farah in Birmingham are the Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, the Olympic 400m silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu and the bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz. Other names to look out for include the new darling of British athletics, the teenager Jessica Judd, who set a personal best of 2min 0.37sec over 800m this year, and international stars and rivals Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Carmelita Jeter going head to head in a rare outing over 200m.
On Saturday, the IPC Athletics Grand Final concludes the seven-event series with a host of Paralympic stars battling it out for titles. In the first major paralympic sports event since London 2012 athletes who became household names, such as Paralympic gold medallists like the sprinter Jonnie Peacock, wheelchair racers David Weir and Hannah Cockcroft, and marathon man Richard Whitehead will gather in Birmingham ahead of the IPC World Championships taking place in Lyon next month.
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