Sir Mo's Perfect Ten - a look back on the races that made a legend
Athletics

Sir Mo's Perfect Ten - a look back on the races that made a legend

05 August 2017 / 16:18
Sir Mo Farah's stunning 10,000m victory at London 2017 on Friday night moved him to a plinth of his own in the pantheon of athletics legends. 

It was his tenth global title in six years - and, aged 34, his winning time was just three seconds outside his European record.

Farah's place in British sporting history has long been secure but his victory in London means he is now the most decorated long distance athlete in history, with Haile Gebrselassie winning 'only' six global titles and Kenenisa Bekele eight.

Here's a look back at Farah's ten greatest races:

1. IAAF World Championship 10,000m, London, 2017

Farah had a target on his back as all-comers for Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya injected pace into the race in a bid to sap his energies.

But in front of his adoring fans, Farah, still primed and poised, finally took control of the race in the home straight, crossing the line in a time just three seconds outside his European record. It was his toughest race and his greatest victory.

"The Kenyans, Ugandans and Ethiopians all gave me a race. Fair play to them, they worked hard. I just had to stay strong and remember that I didn't put all this work in for nothing and I didn't think I'd lose," he said.

2. Olympic Games 10,000m, Rio 2016

MoFarahHe got knocked down but he got up again to win his third Olympic title.

The defending champion was coolness personified in the build-up, playing up to the camera in the warm-up area, exhorting the crowd on the jog to the start line and sitting at the back of the field for the first few laps as the Kenyans and Ethiopians – for all their pre-match hype - looked to be playing into his hands all over again.

But as he slowly started to work his way through the field, disaster struck on lap ten – Farah was clipped by his training partner and friend Galen Rupp and sent tumbling to the track.

“When I fell down I was thinking – get up as fast as I can – don’t panic, don’t panic, don't panic,” he admitted.

“But at that point I was thinking – is the race done? And I was telling myself no – I have worked too hard for this.”

3. Olympic Games 10,000m, London 2012

MoFarah2After Jess Ennis and Greg Rutherford's gold, Farah delivered under the greatest pressure of his career to win his first Olympic gold and make that storied Saturday, truly Super.

Victory was Team GB's first gold in the event and it sealed the most successful day for British athletics since 1908, taking Team GB's gold medal tally for the day to six.

"I can't believe it,' said Farah. "I've never experienced something like this. It doesn't come round often to have this on your door step and the amount of people supporting me, shouting out your name - it's never going to get better. This is the best moment of my life."

4. IAAF World Championships, 5,000m, Daegu 2011

deagu5000GettyImages-123703196
Whatever followed, this race is important because it was the first, a first glimpse into the domination Farah was to enjoy in the six years that followed.

After a silver medal in the 10,000m, Farah held off the challenge of Bernard Lagat of the United States and Ethiopia's Imane Merga to win his first world title over 5,000m.

In what became a textbook tactic, he kept himself out of trouble at the back of the pack and struck for home late, covering the final lap in 52.87 seconds.

Victory made him Britain's first world champion over the distance.

"It's been hard work and a lot of sacrifices and I have to thank so many people who've been behind me," he said. "The aim is to stay injury free. Anything can happen in long distance But you can't get carried away. It's a long way to the 2012 Olympics." 

But we all know what happened there ...

5. Olympic Games 5,000m, London 2012

GettyImages-150174861Those who were there will never forget that super-charged atmosphere, that air of expectancy and the collective sigh of relief when it was all over.

Mo wanted a gold medal for a special reason, with his wife Tania due to give birth to twins just a few days after the Games.

Victory elevated him to an elite band of runners to win both the 5,000m and 10,000m at a single Games, joining Kenenisa Bekele (2008), Hannes Kolehmainen (1912), Vladimir Kuts (1956), Lasse Viren (1972 and 1976), Miruts Yifter (1980) and Emil Zatopek (1952). 

"It's unbelievable," said Farah. "I was feeling tired coming into the race. When I took the lead, I knew I had to hold onto it. It has all worked out well. Two gold medals. Who would have thought that?"

6. IAAF World Championships 10,000m, Beijing 2015

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Farah returned to Beijing seeking redemption in the iconic Bird's Nest, a stadium where he had experienced his worst moment in athletics.

At the 2008 Olympics he didn't even make the 5,000m final but he saw off three Kenyan challengers before producing a last lap of 54.15 seconds to come away from Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tanui in the home straight.

"The Olympics were pretty tough because of the pressure and being at home, but at the same time it was never that quick," he said, after covering the last mile in just over four minutes to win in 27:01.13.

"The last lap, that was close - I honestly thought at one point I was gone because I stumbled."

7. Olympic Games 5,000m, Rio 2016

GettyImages-592613674As a child Farah preferred Arsenal to athletics, so it was fitting that in Brazil – where football is religion – he signed his name into long-distance running legend.

“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."

8. IAAF World Championships 5,000m, Moscow 2013

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Farah became only the second man to achieve the ‘double double’ in consecutive championships, retaining his world 5,000m title.

He had endured a stitch in his stomach for two-thirds of the race but battled to match the achievement of the legendary Kenenisa Bekele.

Lord Sebastian Coe - who famously won first Olympic title on the same track - presented him with his gold and said ‘beyond doubt’ that Farah was now the greatest British athlete of all time.

And just think what he's achieved in the four years since.

9. IAAF World Championships 10,000m, Moscow 2013

moscow10000GettyImages-175924793Farah narrowly got his revenge on Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan, who beat him into silver two years previously, winning a sprint finish to become Britain's first 10,000 metres world champion.

His time was nine seconds quicker than his winning time at London 2012.

He said: "I thought 'you've got to make this worth it'. I was thinking 'not again, not again, not again'. 

"This is what the sport's about, these close finishes."

10. IAAF World Championships, 5,000m, Beijing 2015

beijing5000GettyImages-485686598Mo Farah ran a blistering last lap to become the first man in history to pull off a distance 'triple-double'.

Of course, his success in Rio since then has already upgraded that to a 'quadruple double'.

Farah made it three successive world 5,000m titles but admitted he'd been struggling with a hamstring injury in the race build-up.

"It's great to make history," he said. "I was kind of getting nervous for the first time. I didn't feel great but the medical team helped me through it and to come out here and make a double means so much to me."

And, of course, that's not Farah's only achievements - he's also won eight European titles at indoor, outdoor and cross-country events plus holds the European record for 1500m, 10,000m and the half marathon. 

Indeed he's won 19 golds at senior level and 29 medals in total - what chance rounding out both those numbers by concluding his race career with a fourth 5,000m world title next weekend?

Sportsbeat 2017

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