Double gold for Farah as London 2012 crowd rises in awe
Saturday, 11 August 2012
August 11 - Mo Farah achieved something even the great Haile Gebrselassie never managed here tonight as he added the Olympic 5,000 metres gold to the 10,000m gold he had won a week earlier, thus becoming the seventh man in Games history to complete this double, following in the illustrious footsteps of the likes of Emil Zátopek, Vladimir Kuts, Lasse Virén and, most recently, Kenenisa Bekele.
Where does the 29-year-old go from here, with his dazzling smile and his place secure in the heart of the British sports going public?
Answer, the Birmingham Diamond League meeting and then the Great North Run Half Marathon, an event which may perhaps point the way for his athletics future as a runner moving up the distance to the marathon.
For now, however, Farah can bask in his position of national icon after contributing half of Britain's total of four track and field golds at these home Games.
UK Athletics' head coach, Charles Van Commenee, may not have hit his informal total medal target of eight – Britain only won six here – but with four golds in the bag, he is surely in a position to decide for himself what his next move will be.
In the aftermath of victory, as the stadium bulged with patriotic fervour, Farah went into "Mo-bot" overdrive before setting himself down on the track and performing some energetic sit ups – a repeated nod in the direction of the press-ups Usain Bolt had performed after becoming the first man to defend both 100 and 200m titles at the Olympics.
After securing his third gold of the Games in anchoring the Jamaican 4x100m relay team to a world record of 36.84sec, Bolt returned the compliment with a few deftly executed "Mo-Bots" himself.
"Mo and I go back a long way," said Bolt.
"We have the same agent, Ricky Simms, and I have seen him training.
"I was watching the 5,000 metres before I came out and when I saw Mo win I thought 'Yes!'
"We had spoken about me doing it a while back, but I forgot it until tonight.
"So when I saw him win I thought 'I must remember tonight'."
Before long, Farah found the man in the crowd who has done so much to add the final level of performance that has taken him to these heights – Alberto Salazar, whose coaching of the Briton in Oregon alongside Galen Rupp, who had taken silver behind the Briton a week earlier in the 10,000m, has been peerless.
Soon, too, Farah was hugging his daughter Rihanna and wife Tania, who is imminently due to give birth to twin girls.
"I wanted a gold medal for each of my two girls on the way," said Farah.
"They could come any day now.
It has all worked out well.
Two gold medals?
"Who would have thought that?"
Farah produced a performance tonight that was, if anything, even more impressive than that which had secured him the 10,000m gold a week earlier.
His rivals effectively played into his hands by failing to make it a swift race, thus allowing him to impose his superior finish on the field after moving into the lead with intent with just over a lap and a half remaining.
As he rounded the top bend he had a pack of rivals straining to reach him, but the fleet quarry slipped away to cross the line with a beatific expression on his face in 13min 41.66 – compare and contrast to his personal best of 12:53.11.
Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia, whose late run in lane two threatened briefly to spoil the Briton's night, took silver in 13:41.98, with bronze going to Kenya's Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa in 13:42.36.
"It was a good race, but we made mistakes," said Gebremeskel.
"We planned to make the race fast but we didn't do that.
"Although we tried to make it fast at the end it was too late by then."
Bernard Lagat, who had taken silver behind Farah in the previous year's world 5000m final and was among the chasing pack that had hunted the Briton all around the top bend, added: "Everybody knew he was the favourite and everyone knew they were going to run against the favourite, but he beat us all.
"The crowd helped him; he was running at 100 per cent and they gave him another 10 per cent."
Rupp was full of admiration for his friend, training partner and fellow computer games-player: "He's great, especially the way he's come back from winning the 10,000m and then winning the way he did today.
"He won both races in front of his home crowd – there couldn't have been more pressure on him and he dealt with that."
Commenting on the Farah sit-ups, Rupp added: "That's the first time I've seen him do abs in about two months."
August 2012: Let's raise a glass to Jess, Mo and Greg on a truly historic night of gold for British athletics