For Mo farah, the man of the year in British athletics, the end of the road for the 2010 season has already arrived.
For David Rudisha, the athlete of the summer in global track and field, there will be one last hurrah in Split tomorrow. Both have decided to join the list of high-profile athletes who will be missing from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi next month.
Farah announced yesterday that he was withdrawing from the England team to recharge his batteries following an exhausting campaign in which he struck gold at 5,000m and 10,000m at the European Championships in Barcelona in July and broke Dave Moorcroft's 28-year-old British 5,000m record.
The 27-year-old had been picked for the 5,000m and 10,000m in Delhi. He has also pulled out of the European squad for the Continental Cup, as the former World Cup team competition has been branded, which takes place in Split today and tomorrow.
"I have had a great 2010 season and my body is telling me that it is time to take a break from training and racing," Farah said yesterday. "I have been competing since the start of the year at cross-country, road and track, and feel that I need a few weeks off now to let my body recover so that I can start winter training fit and healthy.
"Over the past few weeks, I have been getting a few niggles – nothing serious, but enough to tell me to ease back. I was looking forward to the Commonwealth Games but, after the success I had this year, I am happy to call it a season. I look forward to the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and the 2012 Olympic Games in my home city of London."
Goldie Sayers, fourth in the javelin at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, has also withdrawn from the England team for Delhi, which was already without Jessica Ennis, Jenny Meadows, Jemma Simpson, Martyn Rooney, Michael Rimmer and Perri Shakes-Drayton.
Like Farah, Rudisha cited fear of burn-out as the reason for his decision to stop his season short of the Commonwealth Games, the 21-year-old Kenyan having pushed his body into 800m world record territory twice in the past fortnight. "I have come to realise that in this profession you do not need to wait for your body to tell you when to stop but rather have the instinct to stop when it is required," he said. "I started my season early, running one minute, 43 seconds by February, and I maintained it until September. I believe I need time to rest and focus on next year."
In the circumstances, it would seem likely that Rudisha will be concentrating on victory and garnering points for the African team, rather than chasing the clock, when he signs off for the season tomorrow. On the past two Sundays he has set world record figures for the 800m. In Berlin a fortnight ago he eclipsed Wilson Kipketer's 13-year-old global mark, clocking 1 min 41.09sec. At Rieti in Italy last weekend, he improved to 1:41:01.
Like Kipketer before him, Rudisha is a product of St Patrick's High School in Iten, and the coaching of the remarkable Brother Colm O'Connell, a priest from Cork. At 6ft 3in, the young Kenyan is a former 400m runner and decathlete blessed with a similar build to Alberto Juantorena, the great Cuban who won the inaugural World Cup 800m in Dusseldorf in 1977. He also possesses a smooth running style reminiscent of the more slender Sebastian Coe, the Briton who preceded Kipketer as world record holder, and who won the World Cup 800m in Rome in 1981.
*The UK 60-metre hurdles champion Callum Priestley has been banned for two years for failing a drugs test.
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