BRITISH athletics forgotten man Tom Lancashire is targeting the Olympics in 2016 after returning from two years out of the sport.

The 28-year-old Bolton 1500m star has returned to top-level action this month after suffering miserably with illness and injury.

He finished fourth out of 20 in the 5,000m at the British Championships in Birmingham on Saturday, a result he was delighted with after being out for so long.

The Bolton Harrier from Bromley Cross regularly competed against the top middle distance athletes in the world before his problems.

A regular on the elite Diamond League stage, he represented Great Britain at all the major tournaments including the Olympics.

Now looking to move up to the 5,000m, Saturday’s race was his second at the distance this month - his first coming in Spain - and he also took part in a mile race last week.

“Considering where I was five or six months ago I’ve come a long way,” he said.

“I was delighted with my run on Saturday. The three guys in front of me are all in very good shape and they only went away from me two laps from the end.

“I’m looking to move up to 5,000m because my body’s more suited to it and I’m going to use this season to learn as much as I can about running the distance.

“The plan is definitely to do the 5,000m at the Olympics in Rio in 2016.”

Lancashire, who turns 29 on Wednesday, has ruled out any chance of competing at the Commonwealth Games next month but is undecided whether the European Championships in August are a viable proposition for him.

“I’m improving all the time but I’ll have to sit down with my coach and see whether it’s worth going for it.

“It will be the 5,000m if I do and the race I’ll try to get the qualifying time is the Diamond League in Glasgow a week on Saturday – the day before the team is picked for the Europeans.

“The time I need is 13 minutes 35 seconds and I’ve done 14 minutes four seconds this season so I don’t know if I’ll be in good enough shape to get it. We’ll have to sit down and decide.

“But this season was always going to be about coming back after the problems I’ve had and starting again.

“It’s a season of transition for me and one in which I’m looking to move up from 1500m to 5,000m.

“I’ve not been able to do the speed work I need to do for the 1500m. My aerobic work is good and that’s what I need for the 5,000m so it makes sense.”

Lancashire's last problem was a complicated Achilles injury which confounded his medical team for months.

“I’ve not felt the Achilles which is good so everything is coming together slowly,” he said.

“The plan now is to run some fast times and learn all I can about the 5,000m and see about the Europeans.”