Gold Standard: The Men's 10,000m

Can mighty Mo Farah cross the line first in Saturday night's 10,000m showdown?



by Alison Hamlett

Mo Farah Daegu
Mo Farah wins the 5,000m at the IAAF World Championship in Daegu in 2011. Picture credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Running 10,000m has a rich and wonderful history. The distance has long been considered the pinnacle of athletic achievement: a true test of speed, endurance and heart.

When the 10,000m gets underway at the London Olympics on Saturday 4th August at 21:15, all eyes will be on Great Britain’s Mo Farah. Back in 2010, Farah won gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m at the European Championships in Barcelona. A great achievement, sure, but you have to remember that the world’s best runners – the Kenyans and Ethiopians – weren’t racing.

His 2011 season started promisingly when he set a new British and European record over 10,000m of 26:46.57, in Eugene, Oregon in June, but it’s what happened next that was truly extraordinary.

Farah took his running to a whole new level at last summer’s IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. Against the best runners in the world, at a time when the standard of men’s distance running had never been higher, Farah won a magnificent gold in the 5,000m and took silver in the 10,000m – where he was the hot favourite.

The 10,000m came down to a thrilling sprint finish between Farah and Ethiopian runner Ibrahim Jeilan, who narrowly beat the Brit into second place, winning in a time of 27:13.81. Farah finished less than half a second behind in 27:14.07.

So what had changed to give Farah this new confidence and speed? The answer is Alberto Salazar. Farah moved to the US 20 months ago to work with top coach Salazar. The Brit put his world-beating performance down to his new training regime, saying at the post-race press conference in Daegu: “You have to believe in yourself. Nothing comes easy. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication.”

The British number one ended the press conference by saying: “Six or seven years ago, we used to think that the Africans couldn’t be beaten but the European guys are definitely closing the gap.” The gap may be closing but it’s still the African runners who have the potential to upset Farah’s dreams of winning a gold medal at his home Olympics.

On the next page: Could the Daegu 10,000m race hold the key to what will hapen on Saturday night?


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