Mo Farah steps up to the mark again to take 10,000m world title in London
It’s now a hat-trick of world titles and an undefeated record that stretches six years
Britain’s Mo Farah celebrates while crossing the finish line to win the men’s 10,000m final at the London 2017 IAAF World Championships. Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA
Holy Mo Farah. There comes a point in championship 10,000m running when gold medals and golden talk count for nothing but golden balls do – and especially to keep winning the way Mo Farah does.
Because no matter what else Farah might be running on or with these days, the audacity of execution continues to astonish. After 25 laps, and allowing each of his rivals to throw whatever they had at him, riding each wave of surge and counter surge with utter fearlessness, Farah once again hit the finish line first.
He was clipped and very nearly fell with 300m to run – did he briefly levitate? He still had six men for company down the backstretch, yet held his nerve and ultimately devastating kick to win in 26:49.53 – the fastest time in the world this year.
Just like that Farah had them all snapped – like putting scissors to a piece of thread.
Relinquished in the minor places yet again were the best of the rest, Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda winning silver in 26:49.94, Kenya’s Paul Tanui third in 26:50. It was that close, Farah’s last lap once again a ridiculous 53 seconds, every split of which counted.
So a hat-trick of World 10,000m titles, still undefeated in six years with a string of now 10 championship titles, this his sixth World gold medal – more than any other British athlete.
“I just didn’t want to let the people down, I love this stadium,” he said. “It’s been a long journey, incredible. It’s been hard, but I guess I’m just mentally stronger, I guess.”
Indeed his opponents look him in the eye and truly believe they could beat him?
From the moment Farah walked into the Olympic Stadium – rising the crowd, who rose for him – he owned the arena. Farah went about rising the crowd and his opponents during the race too, with 15 laps still to run. Is that all you got?
In front of a full house of 60,000, his stars aligned exactly five years – to the day – after winning his first global 10,000m title inside this same stadium, at London 2012.
It was also August 4th when Farah won his first Olympic 10,000m title, in London 2012, and he hasn’t lost a 10,000m race since, or indeed a championship 5,000m, including another Olympic double in Rio last summer, plus the last two World 10,000m titles, won in Moscow 2013 and Beijing 2015.
This was his last race at this distance on the track, but he will be back next weekend looking to make it another distance double, and you can mark that one down too.
Farah briefly hit the front with a mile to run; not yet, said Geoffrey Kamworor, the 24 year-old Kenyan, second at last summer’s Rio Olympics. He tried one last surge, but ended up sixth.
Cheptegei had run the first lap in 61 seconds, briefly bringing himself and two others clear, before the entire field latched on in succession, like beads strung out on a piece of string. From there on the race unfolded into the inevitable, and became all about Farah, who despite producing these unbreakable displays on the track, still can’t distance himself from the shadow of drugs, specially his association coach Alberto Salazar, currently being investigated by US anti-doping.
No normal athlete – in the original meaning of that word – wins three World 10,000m titles in succession, another footnote being his last 1km split of 2:28.82. Not bad for a runner who in another carnation couldn’t kick his way out of a paper bag.
For once then it seemed Usain Bolt was playing support act, his qualification from the 100m heats a little earlier merely teasing the crowd for what is to come. Still they lapped it up as if he’d just levitated the length of the track,
Bolt actually came out of the blocks like a man who hadn’t run in weeks (“the worst blocks I’ve ever experienced,” he said) before promptly hitting top end speed and winning in 10.07 seconds. So the big Jamaican comes back inside the Olympic Stadium in search of World Championship gold medal number 12 this evening, not just looking like the man to beat as a man unbeatable.
Although Justin Gatlin, who endured some sarcastic booing before winning his heat in 10.06, might yet have something to say about that. There are plenty of other shadowy figures in the sport right now who are hailed rather than jeered, and British crown would do well to remember that.