Rio 2016: Mo Farah in a class of his own after historic Rio double
A week after picking himself off the track following a trip to claim 10,000m gold, Farah avoided any such drama and burst clear down the home straight to cross the line in 13 minutes 3.30 seconds.
He produced a scorching final lap of 52.83secs to hold off the challenge of American Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo, who came home in 13:03.90 and was finally awarded silver after a raft of disqualifications and reinstatements. Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia got bronze.
Victory saw 33-year-old Farah become only the second man after ‘Flying Finn’ Lasse Viren to win both long-distance track titles at two Olympics.
His four Olympic titles took him past the three won by Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele and is twice as many as any other British track and field athlete has won.
The Briton has now won nine straight global titles in a run of utter domination stretching back to 2011.
“It means so much to me, I can’t believe I did it,” said Farah.
“I dreamed of being Olympic champion once, and then I did it in London and that was incredible. And then four years later to do it again – there are no words to really describe it.
“To come back year after year and do it is pretty amazing.”
He expected this latest challenge to be the toughest yet, braced for the Ethiopian trio of Muktar Edris, Dejen Gebremeskel and Gebrhiwet to try to tire him out early in the race in a bid to neutralise his finishing speed. He has admitted it is taking him longer to recover between races now, and none of his Ethiopian rivals had taken part in the 10,000m.
Farah was therefore more vulnerable, but the Londoner’s tactical nous has got him out of sticky situations in the past, while his winning streak on the biggest stage intimidates rivals.
Farah, with his loping stride, was keen to stay out of trouble early on as the Ethiopians set a quick pace at the front. He moved up to second with five laps to go and 200m later hit the front.
Gebrhiwet looked to challenge him at the bell as the race turned into a last-lap burn-up, but there remains no one who can match Farah’s speed over the final 400m. He spread his arms wide as he crossed the line to acclaim victory.
His team-mate Andrew Butchart finished an impressive sixth in a personal best 13:08.61.
“Mentally I had to be on top of my game, the guys were out there to get me,” said Farah.
“The guys pushed on and at the beginning I felt a little bit tired and was thinking, ‘Oh no’, and then I got going again.
“And once I got going I went to the front and was like, ‘These guys, I know they are going to be thinking about me, I’m going to control this’ – and I controlled it. I wasn’t going to let anyone past me and at the end you saw my speed.
“I may make it look easy, but it’s not as easy as you see it. It’s tough, the guys make it tough. You’re a target.”
While Usain Bolt said goodbye to the Olympics with a ninth gold medal on Friday night, completing his ‘triple triple’, this, sealing the ‘double double’, is set to be Farah’s last track race at a Games.
He plans to move to the roads after next year’s World Championships in London. And, boy, will he be missed.
Brendan Foster said: “Mo, you are a treasure, you are more than a national treasure, you are the greatest we have ever had and one of the greatest distance runners we have ever seen.”
Farah had stated ahead of the race that he needed this fourth gold for his son Hussein, with his three others dedicated to his older three children.
He dedicated his two Olympic golds from London 2012 to his twin daughters Aisha and Amani, who were born shortly after those successes, and said his 10,000m gong in Rio was for his oldest daughter Rhianna.
And the last member of the Farah brood has not been left out.
“There was only one to go and that’s what motivated me,” he said. “The Olympics gets harder and tougher, but now all my four kids have got one medal each and when I’m one day gone they will have something.”
Christine Ohuruogu felt like the devil was on her shoulder around the last bend, spurring her on to win 4x400m bronze as Great Britain’s athletics team reached their Rio 2016 medal target.
The last British athletes in action at the Olympic Stadium brought the curtain down in style, with the quartet of Eilidh Doyle, Anyika Onuora, Emily Diamond and Ohuruogu winning a first women’s 4x400m medal since Barcelona 1992 by crossing the line third in three minutes 25.88 seconds.
It was the medal that saw Team GB officially surpass their London 2012 haul, with the 66th overall also a seventh for the athletics team – the target set by UK Sport for Rio 2016.
“It wasn’t really about me,” Ohuruogu said after adding to her individual 400m gold from Beijing 2008 and silver four years ago. “I just really wanted a real team effort.”