Mo betters blues to win in London
Back in 2012 Mo Farah became only the seventh man to win the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the same Olympic games. A year later in Moscow, Farah added the 5,000 and 10,000 metres world championships double. But his defence of those titles has been disrupted by a scandal involving his coach Alberto Salazar.
Farah showed his customary grit to win the 3,000 metres at the Anniversary Games in London on Friday night with the year’s fastest time of 7 minutes 34.66 seconds. Othmane El Goumri from Morocco was second in 7 minutes 36.71 and the Kenyan Kipsang was third.
The Somali-born Briton was given a rapturous reception at the Olympic Stadium – the scene of his 5,000 and 10,000 metres victories at the 2012 Games.
It was his first race in England since allegations surfaced that Salazar had been involved in doping. Salazar denies the claims and Farah is not accused of any wrongdoing.
But the furore marked the 32-year-old and he withdrew from a Diamond League meeting in Birmingham in June after the accusations against his coach, saying he was emotionally and physically drained by the row.
He refused to attend the pre-race press conferences for the Anniversary Games in order to avoid questions over the Salazar allegations.
On the track he showed his fighting qualities. He took control of the race after 2000 metres with a pack of six runners on his tail including the fast-finishing Ethiopian Yenew Alamirew and Emmanuel Kipsang from Kenya.
But they were left in his wake. "I got amazing support," said Farah. "It meant everything to me. This is where I made my name and it changed my life to win and become Olympic champion here."
On Saturday, the Anniversary Games continue with an appearance of David Rudisha in the 800 metres. The Kenyan Olympic champion and world record holder faces a strong field including Nijel Amos from Botswana who took silver behind him three years ago.
There’s also another chance for the South African Wayde van Niekerk to showcase his form. He became the first African to run under 44 seconds over 400 metres when he clocked 43.96 at the Paris Diamond League meeting at the Stade de France just outside Paris on 4 July.
His compatriots LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks will be in action in the 400 metres hurdles.
Wisely the organisers scheduled the women’s 100 metres for Saturday night. Murielle Ahouré from Cote D’Ivoire and Blessing Okagbare from Nigeria will be keen to show absent Americans and Jamaicans that they’re in form for Beijing. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's season's best time of 10.74 seconds - set in Paris three weeks ago - is the mark to beat.
While the persistent rain didn’t deter more than 40,000 die hard fans on Friday night, the weather did force the postponement of the pole vault competition. That will resume on Saturday with French Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie taking on compatriot Kevin Ménaldo as well as the Poles Pawel Wojciechowski and Piotr Lisek.