Magical Mo elevates himself to another level with Olympic double double
Athletics

Magical Mo elevates himself to another level with Olympic double double

21 August 2016 / 10:00

Could it have been anyone else?

The stars aligned on Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro as Mo Farah and Team GB made histor y– his 10,000m gold taking their medal total to 65.

That number matched their momentous achievement from four years ago in London, and while it was surpassed later that evening as the women’s 4x400m claimed bronze, it was a total few thought would be repeated in Brazil.

After all, no host country has ever improved on their medal tally four years later. But records were made to be broken – and Farah knows all about that.

As a child the 33-year-old preferred Arsenal to athletics, so it was fitting that in Brazil – where football is religion – Farah signed his name into long-distance running legend.

By matching the Flying Finn Lasse Viren and doing the Olympic double double – with 5,000m and 10,000m success – at London and now in Rio he has surpassed the great North Africans.

Farah

Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele might have the world records, but they never got near the medal tally that Mo has racked up on the track.

In addition to his Olympic set of four golds – one for all four of his children Rihanna, Aisha, Amani and Hussein – he has a combined ten world and European titles.

After a while it gets hard to keep up with the list of Farah’s achievements – probably as hard as it is to keep pace with his trademark kick that once again did the damage in Rio. 

And Farah – who will not go on to Tokyo 2020 as his attention now turns to the marathon – cannot quite believe the scale of both his and his country’s achievement.

“London 2012 was incredible, and then four years later to do it again – no words can describe it," he said.

“The schedule was difficult. It might look easy but it isn’t.

“The guys make it tough because you are a target. They watch you race, they know what you are good at.

“Mentally I had to be on top of my game because the other guys were out to get me so I just had to be alert.

“There is the 2017 World Championships and I would like to be able to go on the track in London, but then after that I would like to go on the roads.

“We have achieved a lot as a nation here in Rio. To be able to carry on from 2012 four years later is amazing and I think the legacy has changed since 2012.”

Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission in Rio, was equally effusive:  “What we have achieved here is massive,” he said.

“To do it on foreign soil and potentially finish second in the medals table is a greater achievement. It has been a really concerted, Herculean effort in a tough part of the world.”

No Brit had ever won four Olympic golds on the track before, so it was never going to come easy.

Farah had to pick himself up off the floor to win his 10,000m a week ago and stumbled in the qualifying heat at the shorter distance four days later.

But there was no such drama on Sunday in the Olympic Stadium – although that is not to say Farah had everything his own way. 

The Ethiopian trio of Dejen Gebremeskel, Muktar Edris and Hagos Gebrhiwet lifted the pace early on to try and burn off the great man.

But Farah’s race craft is perhaps his most underrated skill and – after starting the race customarily at the back of the field – he gradually maneuvered his way through the pack.

He finally hit the front with just under 2,000m to go and from there it was the same old story for his rivals.

MFarah

Gebrhiwet tried to stay with him as his two countrymen faded but a 52.83 second final lap from Farah was enough – Paul Chelimo snuck through to snatch silver in the end – but all eyes were on the winner.

The 33-year-old floated down the final straight and into the history books.

“It shows I didn't just fluke it in London, to do it again is incredible," he said. 

"I just want to see my kids and hang this medal around their necks.

“I was surprised by the first lap, I thought it was going to be a slow race. They had a plan, they wanted to take the sting out of me but when I hit the front, I wasn't letting anyone past me.

“I hate to lose. Even in PE I hated losing. I have that drive, it is just me. I can't quite believe it. I wished for just one medal as a junior. It has been a long journey but if you dream of something, have ambitions and are willing to work hard then you can get your dreams. 

“I don't see my kids, I will never catch that time I missed but if I can achieve something for them, that is what drives me.

"Olympics get harder and tougher but all my four kids have one medal each and when I am one day gone they will have something to remember me by."

If this is the final time we are to see Farah on an Olympic track then what a way to sign off. 

Sportsbeat 2016

By Charlie Talbot-Smith in Rio

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