Mo Farah has stepped inside the Olympic Stadium just once since his golden double last summer.
He was back at the scene of his greatest career triumph for a photo-shoot, and where once 80,000 people shouted his name en route to double gold in the 5,000 metres and 10,000m, this time the stands stood empty.
On Saturday, once again a full house is expected and the chants will return as he competes for the first time in a 3,000m race, his first of the season, against the likes of Tariku Bekele and fellow Briton Chris Thompson.
Speaking from his training base in St Moritz, Farah described the prospect of a return as “emotional”. Recalling that one-off visit three months ago, he added: “I went back to an empty stadium. You picture things, where you were at that point and what happened. It will be quite emotional but, at the same time, it will be great to go back and win.”
Such a prospect is likely on current form. Last week in Monaco, he broke Steve Cram’s 28-year-old British record for the 1500m – lowering it from 3 min 29.67sec to 3:28.81.
“If you’d said to me after London that I will break the British record and break three minutes 30, I’d never have believed you,” he said. “It was a shock.”
His American coach, Alberto Salazar, had predicted Farah would break the mark but has not set him such lofty ambitions at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games this weekend.
Farah admitted to having been tired out by the 1500m and, as a result, his sole goal for the race is victory, though he is likely to do more than that.
It is almost exactly a year since Super Saturday when Farah won the first of his two Olympic gold medals in front of a frenzied home crowd. “It was very exciting. I was just buzzing,” he recalled. “There was quite a lot of pressure and people shouting out your name. It was just incredible. It was something I could never imagine.
“I knew Jess [Ennis] had done well – she was celebrating. I could see in the corner of my eye Greg [Rutherford] was happy but I didn’t know how well he had done. The crowd was getting louder so I knew he had done well.”
As for a similar roar this weekend, Farah said, “that would be amazing. It will never be the same again, but it will be great if it is close to that. They said the photo-finish camera shook.”
While Ennis-Hill and Rutherford, have struggled with injuries since, the former still nursing an Achilles problem and Rutherford battling a hamstring complaint, in contrast Farah said he is better than a year ago.
“I’m definitely a better athlete than I was. Definitely. I’m stronger and more experienced. But I’ve got to go and do it when it matters.”
Farah’s race precedes the men’s 4x100m relay, in which the ultimate showman Usain Bolt is likely to bring the house down, leading to suggestions that Farah and the Jamaican could once again swap their post-race celebrations, Farah doing the lightning bolt, with Bolt the Mobot.
The Londoner says it is unlikely, but a winning repeat of last summer is not.Reuse content