European Athletics Championships 2014: Mo Farah roars back in style to take 10,000m gold
The result rarely seemed in doubt, the only surprise being the man to finish in second, team-mate Andy Vernon
Wednesday 13 August 2014
Mo Farah called the Letzigrund Stadion a magic stadium and inside it showed he had lost none of his magic touch.
The Londoner was back where he belonged on the track, his natural habitat, after his marathon foray earlier in the year, which had proved a rare disappointment in a gold-laden few years for Farah.
His 10,000m gold in Zurich was not quite of the stature of London 2012 nor Moscow last year, those lining up against him of a lesser calibre, but the result was still the same, the arms outstretched, the beaming smile as the first man over the line, the Mobots following moments later. This time, though, he also punched the air and warranted a hug from Usain Bolt in the stands.
It capped a remarkable turnaround, six weeks after Farah had collapsed unconscious on the bathroom floor and had to be airlifted to hospital over a heart scare. The next four days were spent being treated by doctors. It had cost him a shot at the Commonwealth Games double in Glasgow, but not so in Zurich.
Four years ago inside the same stadium Farah had broken the British record in the 5,000m. His national mark of 26min 46.57sec for the 10,000m was never in threat from the moment he slotted into dead last of the 24-strong field at the gun but this was never about times, merely a return to winning ways.
The result rarely seemed in doubt, the only surprise being the man to finish in second, team-mate Andy Vernon, who had been embroiled in a Twitter spat with 800m runner Lynsey Sharp. She had labelled him “Andy Vermin” while he later apologised before Sunday’s team meeting for the manner in which he had criticised her lauding of her Commonwealth Games silver medal.
But Vernon, running the race of his career, was merely the sideshow to Farah, who said: “Two weeks ago there was doubt I was going to compete here after I pulled out of the Commonwealth Games.
“I like the 10K, I prefer it, so to come out here and win meant more than anything else in the world. It was probably closer to the Olympics, because only three weeks ago I pulled out of the Commonwealths and things weren’t going well. So this means a hell of a lot to me.”
It is hard not to be full of admiration for the 31-year-old. He had his critics for the London Marathon adventure – an exercise that proved a disappointment with eighth place – and for missing the Commonwealths, a decision he argued was potentially an off-shoot of his 26.2-mile through the streets of London.
His disappointment at missing Glasgow was genuine while his return to the top of the pile in Zurich all the more admirable, even though he was far from his best. The reality is he did not need to be, biding his time in the race and only really making his mark at the bell.
He did not quite leave others trailing in his wake, as Ali Kaya representing Turkey, came close to nudging past but into the home straight Farah knew he had it won, while Kaya was pipped to silver by Vernon. “It would have been nice to run a little bit slower,” said Farah, “a few times I tried to go to the front and slow it down, but it didn’t work.”
Before flying here on Monday, Farah had just one competitive track race to his name in 2014, a 5,000m in Oregon, and there was a rare sense of vulnerability. It was fitting that his return to the top came at the European Championships. It was the event of his first major medal, a silver over 5,000m in Gothenburg in 2006, and also his first major title four years on in Barcelona, where the double golds began.
The first gold has again been ticked off here and he will be the favourite to win a second on Sunday, particularly following a slow race in which he used the minimum of energy. Another double top beckons.
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