Rio de Janeiro: Tripped or not, it seems nothing can stop Mo Farah over 10,000 metres in a major championship. Not even his training partner clipping his heel in the Olympic final. Not the assembled power of Kenya's best trying to wear him down. Not the final kick of rival Paul Tanui.
Farah, with thoughts of his daughter Rihanna flashing through his mind, proved again why he is in a league of his own at the moment, and right up there with the greatest in history. In a thrilling Olympic final, the Somali-born British runner even had time to put his hands on top of his head in the trademark "Mobot" sign, as well-known to distance runners as Usain Bolt's signature pose.
"It's never easy but everyone knows what I can do. I thought about all my hard work, and that it could all be gone in a minute," said Farah, who has three Olympic gold medals from two Olympics and is preparing for the defence of his 5,000m title next week. A good bet considering he has won gold in all major races over the distance going back to 2011.
Although he would surely welcome a little simpler race next Saturday, when he has a chance to become the first man to win back-to-back Olympic long-distance doubles since Finnish great Lasse Viren in the 1970s.
All was going well early on in the 10,000, with Farah running safely in the pack, with American training partner Galen Rupp. But after 10 laps, Rupp clipped Farah's heel and the defending champion was down. "I bumped into him, there was a lot of pushing," Rupp said.
Suddenly, Farah's path to a gold medal was significantly more difficult. "When I fell down, for one moment, I was thinking, 'Oh my race is over, my dream is over'," Farah said.
But amid the mayhem of tens of thousands of fans shouting in disbelief, his thoughts turned to his family and how he still needed a gold to keep everyone happy. "I'd promised my older daughter Rihanna I was going to get a medal for her and in my mind I was thinking I can't let her down," said Farah, who flashed a thumbs-up sign to show he was alright. "The twins from 2012 have got one of each and Rihanna's missing one so I thought, 'I can't, I can't'."
Once he caught up with the pack again, the Kenyans made their move. Farah is known for his unmatched finishing kick, so wearing him down is the only way to win. And after his comeback from the fall, they would perhaps stand a chance. But not this time.
Even when three Kenyans tried to push away from the pack with spurts of acceleration, there was no shaking Farah off. "As each lap went down, I was getting more confidence, confidence, confidence," he said.
Farah took the lead with one kilometre to go, and usually that means the race is over. But this time, Tanui would not let go. A bunch of four were trailing Farah at the bell, and Tanui saw his chance down the back straight to finally break his hold on long-distance racing.
But Farah produced yet another comeback and once he swerved past Tanui going into the final straight, he might as well have started his victory lap. He won in 27 minutes, 5.17 seconds, while Tanui held on for silver in 27:05.64 and Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia took bronze.
Once it was over, Farah fell to the track at the finish again, his face down, trying hard to take it all in.
With inputs from agencies
First Published On : Aug 14, 2016 18:05 IST