World Championships: Mo Farah enthrals London crowd once more to cement his legacy

Mo Farah (right) celebrates taking gold in the 10,000m Men's Final during day one of the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium. (Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire)
Mo Farah (right) celebrates taking gold in the 10,000m Men's Final during day one of the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium. (Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire)
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Very few athletes earn a cheer greater than Usain Bolt on the same night of competition.

But very few claim a 10th gold medal at a major championships in front of a vociferous home crowd during their careers.

Catch me if you can: Britains Mo Farah surges into the lead en route to winning the mens 10,000m final during day one of the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium. (Picture: John Walton/PA)

Catch me if you can: Britains Mo Farah surges into the lead en route to winning the mens 10,000m final during day one of the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium. (Picture: John Walton/PA)

Five years to do the day that the British distance runner lit up the Olympic stadium alongside Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford on Super Saturday, Farah provided another special night for British athletics on the opening day of the World Championships in London.

The 34-year-old shrugged off continued doping allegations and produced a typically ruthless sprint finish to claim a third straight 10,000m World Championships glory.

Despite a scratchy, attritional race, Farah held off the prolonged African challenge to win the first World Championships athletics medal to be run on these shores and the sixth world gold of his track career.

In the process, the 34-year-old moved one step away from cementing his status as the greatest distance runner of all time – joining Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie on 10 world or Olympic track titles.

But his white British vest was akin to a yellow jersey of the Tour de France as the rest of the field attempted to negate his sprint capacity with repeated attacks.

Ed White

As a four-time Olympic champion, Farah was always the marked man.

But his white British vest was akin to a yellow jersey of the Tour de France as the rest of the field attempted to negate his sprint capacity with repeated attacks.

Farah had sat quietly at the back early on, perhaps soaking it up while he could.

But he was unable to sit deep for too long as Ugandan runners Moses Kurong and Joshua Cheptegei began to disrupt the pace, putting in an odd 61 second laps of 400m.

It was with 18 laps to go Farah moved forward, waving his arms to the unusually flat crowd for a roar. And they responded.

With ease, Farah controlled his pace and with four laps to go he moved to the head of the field for a first time.

Soon, Farah had the race under his control and he was in his usual forthright position at the front as the bell rang for the final lap. However, drama followed as the 34-year-old was clipped and restored his balance on the very inside of the track

As he got back to upright, there was no need to ask for a response from the stands as Farah stretched his legs down the back straight to a chorus of noise.

From 200m to the final 100, Farah made his move and put distance to Cheptegei and Kenyan pair Paul Tanui and Bedan Muchiri. In trademark style, the Britain never let it get close as he won in a world-leading time of 26 minutes 49.51seconds.

“It’s been hard but I am mentally strong,” said Farah. “It’s been a long journey but it’s been amazing. It’s been incredible.”

This was a special night for the Londoner.

And the tears followed as he sunk to his knees on the track.

“The crowd were incredible, I love them all. I want to thank everyone of you,” he wept.

The noise is expected to ratchet up again tonight as Bolt attempts to win the men’s 100m title for a fourth time.

The women’s 10,000m will act as a precursor to the showpiece event and will see Leeds-based runner Beth Potter put her recent triathlon transition to the test against the dominant African contingent.

Potter moved to Yorkshire in January having decided to extend her focus to three disciplines following a disappointing Rio Olympics Games last year.

She joined British Triathlon’s training programme and now trains alongside the Brownlee brothers and elite women’s performers Non Stanford and Jess Learmonth.

The Scottish athlete has set her sights on joining the likes of on the triathlon start line at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year – and could double up on the track too.

In an interview with The Yorkshire Post, the 25-year-old credited her move north for renewing her enthusiasm towards athletics.

“It’s been incredible to go into such a good group,” she said.

“All the athletes and coaches have been amazing and passed on so much. It’s so good to know that I have got so much knowledge on my doorstep.

“After racing in Rio I felt I had to do it. If I didn’t do it then, I wouldn’t have done it. I was disappointed with my performance in Rio and I really wanted a change.

“I have pretty big ambitions. I want to be at the top of my game in triathlon. I don’t want to limit myself.

“I don’t know how far I can get but I am aiming for the top.”

Meanwhile, fellow Leeds runner Laura Weightman will run in a World Championships semi-final for the first time after easing through her 1,500m heat last night.

Weightman, who had to pull out of the competition due to concussion in Beijing two years ago, sat comfortably in fifth place throughout before extending her stride on the final 100m to finish fourth in the third hear in 4.03.50. British record holder Laura Muir (4.08.97) also cruised through the second heat in fourth and will be joined by Jessica Judd, who set a personal best of 4.03.73, and Sarah MacDonald in the semi-finals.