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Report: World Athletics Championships 2013

Mo Farah dedicates world championship crown to family

Gold medallist Mo Farah poses during the men's 10,000 metres victory ceremony in Moscow, 10 August
Gold medallist Mo Farah poses during the men's 10,000 metres victory ceremony in Moscow, 10 August Reuters/Grigory Dukor
Text by: Paul Myers in Moscow
5 min

Mo Farah last night dedicated his 10,000 metres world championship crown to his family for their forbearance while he pursued the one major title to have eluded him.

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The Somali-born Londoner claimed the race on the opening day of the 14th world athletics championships in Moscow, beating the Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan in a thrilling sprint finish after 25 laps of the Luzhniki Stadium.

Two years ago at the world championships in Daegu in South Korea, the roles were reversed.

Last year at the London Olympics, Farah became only the seventh man to win both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the same games. The 30-year old has been candid about how his Daegu disappointment fired his desire to claim Olympic gold over 10,000 metres.

As he savoured his world championship medal, Farah paid tribute to his family and spoke emotionally of the domestic anguish he suffers while he pursues glory on the track.

“My two girls were born just after the Olympics,” he said. “And I’ve been away from them so much, like four months at a time and then I’ve been in and out. And parents will understand this: they don’t recognise me. They see me as this stranger. So sometimes when you go home for three or four days, it’s hard.

“I remember being in London and trying to hug them and trying to play with them and they just step away and start crying. So the victory makes it worth it and I dedicate the win to them.”

Dossier: IAAF World Championships

Farah said his seven year old step-daughter, Rihanna, understood that he had to go away to train. “The twins don’t understand and for me when I crossed that line, it was definitely worth it after everything that I’ve gone through.”

Farah’s already impressive CV can now be considered complete, but if he manages to retain his 5,000 world title, the debate will gather pace about his standing among the greatest distance runners. Farah, though, says he’s not worrying about his induction into the pantheon.

“I don’t consider myself the greatest or anything else,” he said. “That’s just what comes along with being successful. As an athlete I just try to do what I can do. I want to be able to collect as many medals as possible during my career and do well for my country and my family, do the best that I can.”

In the prelude to the 10,000 metres the impression was given by commentators and pundits that the race was Farah’s to lose. The athlete said he felt that the Ethiopian and Kenyan runners would gang up on him. And he seemingly quantified that claim by beginning the circuit at the tail of the 35 runners.

Hours before the event, Lord Coe, head of the British Olympic Association and a former 1,500 metres gold medallist, joked: “I’m probably just about to jinx a national treasure but it’s difficult to know what will be going through the minds of anybody in that warm up area or call room for the 10,000 metres because with 3 mins 28 over 1500 metres in Farah’s skill sets, they’re going to be worrying about how they’re going to tackle him.

“Farah’s not going to be worrying about a fast pace but if it’s a classic kick and sit, then that kind of speed is not going to be a challenge either. He’s in that mode in his career where he doesn’t think he’s going to lose and - for the other competitors - they don’t think they’re going to win either.”

Coe, who took Olympic gold and siliver on the Luzniki track in 1980, added: “That’s not to say it won’t be a competitive race, he will be pushed all the way but I think he just has too many skill sets at the moment.”

Coe should perhaps consider a career as a soothsayer. Farah finished in 27 mins 21.71 seconds. Jeilan’s time was 27:22.23. It was that close.

Tanui who did much of the front running was less than a second behind Farah.

For nine and a half kilometres it was nip, tuck and tactical. For the last 400 it was all about redemption and tenacity. “To be honest with you for the last lap I could see he [Jeilan] was there,” recalled Farah. “And I was thinking I had to make the last lap mean something and still have something left at the end. And at 200 metres I could see him making a move trying to come on the outside. He was right there and down the home straight I was thinking: ‘not again, not again, not again’ and this time I just had that little bit more, you know. But that’s what sport is about. It was definitely a close race.”

Farah will attempt to retain the 5,000 metres on 16 August - the seventh day of the championships. If he succeeds, he’ll be the first man to do so since the Kenyan Ismael Kirui achieved the feat at the 1993 and 1995 championships.

Just as importantly victory will furnish Farah with another double.

Kenenisa Bekele was the first man to do that at the Berlin world championships four years ago.

Whether he regards himself as one of the greatest or not, Farah is following in some very famous footsteps.

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