Mo Farah’s greatness on the line against Ethiopian marvels Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele

 

There have been crossroads in Mo Farah’s life defined by Haile Gebrselassie.

There was the great Ethiopian’s titanic 10,000m Olympic battle in Sydney in 2000 with Paul Tergat, which Farah watched from his school common room, leaning forward in his chair willing Gebrselassie on to win. “That was one of the greatest races I’ve ever watched and from that point I said ‘I want to be Olympic champion’,” said Farah yesterday.

Then there were the more recent comments by Gebrselassie doubting  if Farah would ever upset the Ethiopian and Kenyan dominance, remarks the Londoner admitted had been a driving factor in his recent success.

Those episodes, spanning 13 years, act as a poignant precusor to the pair’s encounter in tomorrow’s Bupa Great North Run, a race billed as a battle of three dominant eras of distance running.

Lining up against them is Kenenisa Bekele and the trio’s achievements are remarkable: Bekele is a three-time Olympic gold medallist, 17-time world champion and world record holder for the 5,000m and 10,000m while Gebrselassie boasts two Olympic and nine world titles, and has recorded 26 world records in his illustrious career. Farah has two Olympic and three World Championship gold medals but, without the world records, there is some conjecture whether he can be considered an all-time great.

Gebrselassie is adamant there should be no queries. “Of course, there’s no question about that,” he said. “He’s already [great]. Look at what he did, World Championships two years ago, Olympics last year, this year World Championship. Nobody expected it.”

The great Ethiopian, at 40 not quite a spent force, believes Farah can continue to dominate distance running on the track, and that he can add the one thing missing from his running CV.

“Of course, if he can win the championship, why not the world record?” said Gebrselassie. “It’s a kind of different training maybe, instead of kicking at the end, pushing from the beginning to the end. This is his time.”

Bekele, also Ethiopian, insisted Farah needed those top times to be considered great. “It’s very important to put down world records – that makes it special,” he said. “For sportsmen, it’s Olympics and World Championships but world records are very important, they’re bigger. He should do something, world records, to get real respect and be on that same level.”

It remains to be seen whether Farah’s current distance hegemony is challenged tomorrow on less familiar footing in the form of road running. He should come out on top, Gebrselassie being past his best and Bekele admitting he is still not quite 100 per cent after his injury problems.

But Farah sees the Great North Run as merely the start of a series of on-going battles. “I believe I’m going to race Kenenisa many, many times,” he said. “He’ll go from the track to road and we’ve got a lot ahead of us.”

The battles begin in Gateshead, and Farah is well aware of the historic nature of what is a world-class field. “It will be nice to have three of us: Haile dominating since Sydney and Kenenisa in Beijing and me in London, so it’s nice to have that era,” he said. “It’s an honour to line up against such great guys in terms of what Kenenisa has achieved in athletics, same with Haile. For us, you can’t get any better than this.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power