Late burst: Mo Farah waited until the very last lap to take the lead Photo: PA
Mo Farah sprinted into athletics legend here in London’s disbelieving Olympic Stadium, becoming the first British man ever to win the Olympic 10000m title, indeed any global 25-lap title, with a run of rare courage and brilliance.
By Ian Chadband
Saturday, August 04, 2012
Just as 80,000 were still beside themselves with delight over Jessica Ennis’s glorious heptathlon victory and Greg Rutherford’s long jump win, Farah capped it all by demonstrating why, in this land of the harrier, he stands as Britain’s greatest-ever male endurance runner with a 25-lap triumph which had every one of them on their feet again.
To cap the most spectacular hour in British athletics annals, the 29-year-old negotiated a rough and tumble race before racing to victory in a dazzling 27min 30.42sec. His training partner Galen Rupp could not get on terms as Farah put in a sensational last lap. Bronze medallist was Tariku Bekele ahead of his legendary brother Kenenisa Bekele.
It made Farah the first Briton, man or woman, ever to win the Olympic25-lap title – Mike McLeod had come closest with his silver in Los Angeles in 1984 - and the first since Liz McColgan back in Tokyo 1991 to beat the world over the distance in a major championship.
It also made up for his heartbreaking near-miss in last year’s world championship 10,000m when the Londoner lost out in a sprint finish with little-known Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan.
On that occasion, though shattered by the loss after another all-conquering season, Farah responded with great conviction a few days later to become the first British man to win the world 5,000m title.
Now he has the opportunity here next Sunday to add the Olympic 5,000m crown which has previously always deserted all of Britain’s brilliant male endurance runners and to join the immortal double winners like Lasse Viren, Miruts Yifter and Kenenisa Bekele.
What a moment for Farah, completing the incredible journey which took an eight-year-old boy all the way from Somalia, via Djibouti after civil war had broken out in his native land, to London and then on to the top of the world.
The lad from Mogadishu never really wanted to be a runner and was more interested in football but the mischievous kid who would land in all kinds of trouble at school in Hounslow now finds himself an icon of the sport.
What a way to race into legend. This was one of the most difficult events to win in the entire programme, up against a 29-strong field of dazzling talent, largely African, headed by the great Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, seeking to become the first man ever to win three consecutive titles in the longest track event.
Dangers lay everywhere, not least with the chances of the powerful Kenyan and Ethiopian trios to gang up on the home favourite.
In the early stages, Farah found himself jostled and hassled but he did not panic as he fell back and the Eritrean, Zersenay Tadese, kept injecting surges after a fairly sedate first 2km.
The home time boy kept his concentration even when he was being intimidated, running a mature race and with two laps left there were still 12 in contention. But with 450m left, Farah made his move, sped ahead and defied all the opposition’s efforts to catch him.
This seemed an incredible victory for Farah after his calamitous 2008 Olympics, when he failed even to reach the 5,000m final. Yet that was the spur to make him decide on a completely new approach to his running in a bid to beat the world.
Moving with his wife, Tania, who had been his childhood sweetheart, to America, and his stepdaughter, Rihanna, Farah threw in his lot with the brilliant Cuban-born coach Alberto Salazar, committing himself to a tough new regime in Portland, Oregon.
It was the work there which transformed him into a distance runner for everyone to fear. His 10,000m defeat in Daegu last year had been his only reverse of an all-conquering year and, though this season had started with a disappointing defeat in the world indoor championships, his form outdoors had hardly deteriorated as he entered last night’s race on the back of seven races unbeaten outdoors this summer.
The acclamation from the crowd, just as deafening as it had been for Ennis’s wonderful performance, told of just how popular this man is. You can undersatand why; if Ennis is the girl next door, Farah is the good lad who everybody within the sport adores.
He is funny, laid back, boyishly charming. He beat TV’s Cube which everyone laughed was miraculous enough. Now he has beaten the world and has to be thought of, simply, as one of the greatest athletes Britain has ever produced.
Yet we may have seen nothing yet. On Wednesday, the heats of the 5,000m begin and the MoBot celebration may just be about to go completely global.
Source: The Telegraph