Mo Farah joins pantheon of greats as he defends 10,000m title

British long-distance runner becomes sixth man to defend title

Wow! – Paavo Nurmi. Emil Zátopek. Lasse Viren. Haile Gebrselassie. Kenenisa Bekele.

These aren’t the sort of names we throw out lightly in distance running circles, and now Mo Farah has certainly earned his place in that great pantheon – defending his 10,000m title inside Rio’s Olympic Stadium after a simply thrilling race, only the sixth man in history to defend that title.

In joining that legendary list he also becomes the first British athlete to win more than two gold medals in track or field, having won the long-distance double in London four years ago, with every intention of doing likewise in Rio.

And , boy, did he both earn and deserve it – recovering from a fall to the track just before the halfway stage to gun down the Kenyan Paul Tanui in the homestretch, winning in 27:05.17

Still Tanui chased hard all the way to the line, to win silver in 27:05.64, and Farah could never be sure of his win until he crossed the line: with that he pulled his trademark ‘MoBot’ and then fell to the track with a mixture of exhaustion and elation, as well he might.

Chasing just as hard for the bronze medal were the Ethiopian pair of Tamirat Tola and Yigrem Demelash, with Tola winning the race by just .01 of a second, taking third in 27:06.26, with the American Galen Rupp, silver medallist in London four years ago, still running a brilliant race to finish fifth, in 27:08.92

As a race it unfolded with an increasing of the inevitable, his Kenyan and Ethiopian rivals taking turns to throw their best at Farah.

For the opening laps, Farah sat at the very back of the 34-man field – as he does – always looking typically cool and relaxed, even though he wasn’t wearing his customary sunglasses.

After five laps, he finally eased his way off the back, and almost straight to the front: just as well, with 17 of the 25 laps to go, the first serious move was made, Tola hitting the front with some serious conviction, with just moving through the gears, until – bang!

Farah suddenly fell to the track, tripped from behind by Rupp of all people, but he bounced back up just as quick, giving himself, it seemed, the thumbs up.

That fall did not appear to trouble him, but certainly added to the sense of achievement.

Indeed it was a historic run on several levels: at age 33, Farah is showing no sign whatsoever of slowing down, and if he can double up again in Rio (the 5,000m final set for Saturday) he will surpass Bekele’s record tally for the most combined global 5,000m/10,000m titles.

That’s because Farah is now unbeaten in major championship races since losing – very narrowly – the 10,000m at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu: he bounced back days later to win the 5,000m, and has since added the 2012 Olympic double, and doubles at both the 2013 and 2015 World Championship titles.

That’s two Olympic gold medals, five World Championship gold medals, with no other colour or placing in between.

Not since the Viren, in 1972 and 1976, has any distance runner done the 5,000m-10,000m double at consecutive Olympics.

Potentially more history in the making then.