Mo Farah is braced for one of the toughest races of his life over 5,000 metres in Rio as he bids to emulate Lasse Viren and complete the Olympic long-distance ‘double double’.
The 33-year-old became the first British track and field athlete to win three Olympic gold medals on Saturday as he retained his 10,000m title.
And on Wednesday he will start his bid for glory over the shorter distance in the heats, with the final following on Saturday night.
He admits that age is catching up with him in his bid to land a ninth straight global title.
“I just have to recover well,” said Farah. “I know I’ve done everything in training.
“Last year (at the World Championships in Beijing) I did the 10k in a reasonably fast time and then came back for the 5k, so hopefully it won’t take too much out of me. I just have to save as much energy as I can and not get distracted.
“It is a lot harder than four years ago (at London 2012). Even in my training there are certain days where I’m supposed to do a session, but my body doesn’t allow me to do it. So I have to wait for another day.
“As you get older I find it a little bit harder to recover.
“I’m not going to always be on top of my game. This is my moment, I am just going to have to make the most of it, enjoy it.”
Farah had war wounds from his 10,000m race, in which he had to recover from tumbling to the track after an accidental trip from his training partner Galen Rupp, but still had the speed to burst past Kenyan challenger Paul Tanui in the final straight.
“In that split second I thought four years had gone,” said Farah, who sported a cut shoulder and grazed elbow.
“And it wasn’t in my control.
“Mentally I was dazed when I crossed the line. I don’t get emotional, but I did.”
Viren, who was known as the ‘Flying Finn’, won Olympic gold over 5,000m and 10,000m at the Olympics in the 1972 and 1976 Games.
Farah knew the name, but little more about him.
“Ok, so he’s pretty good,” he said.
And one person who reckons Farah will match his achievement is his team-mate Jessica Ennis-Hill.
“I think he will win another gold medal,” she said. “I don’t know who is going to stop him.”
Even in the glow of victory, though, Farah could not escape questions about doping.
He was caught up last year in the allegations against his coach Alberto Salazar – they are unproven and have been strongly denied by the American, while Farah was never accused of any wrongdoing – while in the press conference after his victory he was quizzed on his relationship with Jama Aden.
Somalian coach Aden was arrested in June in Spain as part of an anti-doping operation.
He has been used in the past by British Athletics as an “unofficial facilitator” for training camps in Ethiopia, including at least one attended by Farah last year.
The federation said all Aden did was hold a stopwatch and shout out times and that he was no longer used in any role.
Farah, though, feels he gets a rough ride from the media and admits the scepticism and questioning gets him down. He said: “It’s been really tough on me. I do what I do and I enjoy what I do and I work hard for what I do. But sometimes it’s hard.
“Sometimes it gets me angry and frustrates me. You know there are other systems, other countries, who are not doing what they are supposed to, whereas in Britain what we do we do.
“It is difficult for me because I am an honest guy. I try to be honest in everything I do. I try to be honest with my family.”
But Farah says he understands the scrutiny because of the repeated drug scandals which have tainted athletics and feels the support of the public.
On apparent photos of him and Aden together which have been posted on social media, he added: “It is frustrating, because if I walk through the village now I don’t know who’s been done and who hasn’t, but people will ask for photos.
“People ask for them at the training ground because it’s me. I can’t say no to everyone.”
Greg Rutherford could not hide his disappointment at losing his long jump title, saying he was “gutted” to walk away with a bronze medal.
American Jeff Henderson took gold with a final-round effort of 8.38m, denying South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga by a centimetre, and the Briton was down in fourth until producing his best attempt with his last jump.
But he added: “It’s pretty special to see us Brits still managing to compete. We’re getting a bit old now and it’s good to see that we can do it.”