August 12, 2012 ·1 Comments
Jamaica’s 4X100 relay gold medalist Usain Bolt (R) and Britain’s 5000m gold medalist Mohamed Farah pose after the athletics event during the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 11, 2012 in London. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE
LONDON — It was the perfect ending to the perfect Games, just as Lord Coe hoped it would be. A capacity home crowd on its feet and roaring itself hoarse as Londoner Mo Farah tore down the finishing straight for his second Olympic gold and a place at the very pinnacle of British sporting history. It does not get much better than this.
Amid scenes of euphoria rarely witnessed at a track and field meeting, the 29 year-old held off a furious late attack from Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel, the fastest man in the world this year, to take the Olympic 5,000 metres title in 13 min 41.98 sec and send fans into a Union flag-waving frenzy.
In so doing, he became only the seventh man in Olympic history to achieve the illustrious 5,000 and 10,000m double, following in the footsteps of Miruts Yifter, Hannes Kolehmainen, Emil Zatopek, Vladimir Kuts, Lasse Viren – the only ‘double-double’ winner in 1972 and 1976 – and Kenenisa Bekele.
He is also the first British man since Albert Hill in 1920 to win two Olympic track and field titles at the same Games.
If anything, Farah’s performance last night was even more superlative than his ‘Super Saturday’ 10,000m triumph a week earlier given the amount of energy he had already expended during his epic week and the huge pressure he came under from the world’s greatest exponents of the 12½-lap distance.
A second attack came at the start of the final bend as Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider turned on the afterburners and tried to overtake on the outside, but Farah simply found another gear, surging into the final straight with a clear lead just as he had in the 10,000m final last Saturday.
But with Gebremeskel quickening, it looked as if there might be one final twist as the Ethiopian bore down on Farah in the final 30 metres, just as another Ethiopian, Ibrahim Jeilan, had done in the 10,000m final at last year’s World Championships in Daegu before overtaking him on the line.
But Farah had learned from that defeat. A year ago his response was to lengthen his stride and reach desperately for the finish line. This time he remained calm, confident in his new, more staccato sprinting technique, and by the very final strides he was actually increasing his advantage.
Gebremeskel finished second in 13-41.98 with Lonngosiwa taking the bronze medal in 13-42.36.
His triumph, which he celebrated in flamboyant style by performing some sit-ups in imitation of Usain Bolt’s celebratory press-ups, was an astonishing achievement for an athlete who did not even qualify for the 5,000m final at the Beijing Olympics when he was hopelessly outkicked in his semi-final.
But Farah is now barely recognisable from the athlete of four years ago. The first sign that he was on an upward curve came at the European Championships in Barcelona two years ago, where he achieved his first 5,000 and 10,000 double, but there was still some way to go before he could translate his success at continental level to global dominance.
The “next step up”, as Farah describes it, is directly traceable to his decision to move himself and his family out to Portland, Oregon, 18 months ago to join the training stable of American coach Alberto Salazar — a former world-class marathon runner with a legendary attention to detail.
The results were as spectacular as they were immediate, with a string of victories on the roads and the track that culminated in gold in the 5,000m and silver in the 10,000 at last summer’s World Championships.
Suddenly, the possibility of a historic Olympic double in his home city loomed into view. That possibility was gloriously fulfilled on a night that will never be forgotten by those lucky to witness it at first hand.
After his 5,000m heat on Wednesday, Farah had confessed to feeling fatigue, fuelling concern that Britain’s greatest endurance runner might not have the legs for his usual blistering kick.
We need not have worried. His powers of recovery are renowned, and he had another weapon in his armoury — a wall of noise that was simply willing him to the line. He completed the final mile in four minutes and the final lap in less than 53 seconds.
As a Somali by birth and a Londoner since he was eight years old, Farah is not just the world’s greatest long-distance runner but a potent symbol of the city’s diversity.
It was if the final track session had been scripted. A dream ending to an astonishing, awe-inspiring and highly emotional Olympic Games.
Mo Farah is the seventh man to have won 5,000m and 10,000m gold at an Olympics
Soviet Union 1956
Finland 1972, 1976
Great Britain 2012
- The Telegraph
August 12, 2012Follow @somalilandpress