A faltering start to the Rio Olympic 10,000m final saw defending champion Mo Farah hit the deck, having apparently been clipped from behind by erstwhile training partner Galen Rupp (USA). 16 minutes later he unleashed his trademark finishing kick to retain the title in extraordinary fashion before being overcome with the emotion of almost having had the gold snatched away in such cruel circumstances.
The initial pace was pedestrian with the first kilometre taking 2:55 with Farah out of trouble at the back of the field. This was the cue for some inspired commentary from Brendan Foster, who claimed quite correctly that: “Mo is controlling the pace from the back!”
The expected challenge from Kenyan teamwork evaporated as Farah invoked memories of Finland’s Lasse Viren, who recovered from a fall to take the gold in Munich in 1972 – in a world record 27:38.35. Viren is, at the time of reporting, the only athlete to retain an Olympic 5000m and 10,000m double gold.
Surprisingly, it was the Ethiopians Yigrem Demelash and Tamirat Tola who were forcing the pace with five laps to go, with Farah tracking Paul Tanui (Kenya) and keeping a wary eye on Rupp. As the closing laps ticked by in 62 seconds, with Farah at the front, gaps began to appear and it was Tanui who made the big effort but Farah was too strong and just had time for a quick Mobot as he crossed the line in 27:05.17.
Farah is now the most successful British athlete ever with three Olympic gold medals and has every prospect of emulating Lasse Viren’s feat when he lines up for the 5000m at 01:30 (BST) on Saturday, 20 August.
Andy Vernon (Aldershot, Farnham and District, 28:19.36) finished 25th and Ross Millington (Stockport Harriers, 29:14.95) was 31st in a race that had negative 5k splits of 13:53 and 13:12 and a final mile in around 4:03!
More information on British Athletics official website.