Can Mo Farah follow Usain Bolt to double gold joy with success in the 5,000m?

It will be a memorable Last Night of the Poms if Farah joins all-time greats tonight by adding 5,000m gold to his scintillating 10,000m success

Some are born great; some achieve greatness; and some have greatness thrust upon them. And then there is Mo Farah, who stands around 13 minutes away from joining the all-time greats of distance running.

Seven days after he brought Super Saturday to a glorious crescendo with his momentous victory in the men's 10,000m final, the 29-year-old stick insect of a Londoner goes for Olympic gold again in the 5,000m final tonight. It will be the last night of the Poms –and all the other nations – on the magic red carpet of the Olympic Stadium track, and if Farah can make it another "Land of Hope and Glory" occasion, he will enter the record books alongside some illustrious names.

Only six men have ever completed an Olympic 5,000m-10,000m double. Hannes Kolehmainenen, the original Flying Finn, was the first to achieve the feat, in Stockholm in 1912, precisely a century ago. Then came Emil Zatopek, the Czechoslovakian soldier, in Helsinki in 1952 and Vladimir Kuts of the Soviet Union in Melbourne four years later.

Lasse Viren, the Finnish policeman, did it twice over – in Munich in 1972 and in Montreal four years later, fuelled by reindeer milk, he told the world. Then there was Miruts Yifter – "Yifter the Shifter" as David Coleman christened him. The balding Ethiopian shifted to gold at both distances in Moscow in 1980. Then, in Beijing four years ago, there was another Ethiopian, the phenomenal Kenenisa Bekele, at the peak of his powers.

Now, having relegated Bekele to fourth place in the 10,000m here (one position behind his little brother, Tariku), it is Farah who stands on the threshold of an achievement that Lord Coe reckons would elevate him to the status of the greatest British track-and-field Olympian of all time.

"He can do the 5,000m," the chairman of the 2012 organising committee and dual Olympic 1500m champion said yesterday. "A lot will depend on how much he really wants it. The double is tough enough.

"It's not the physicality of winning both distances or running both distances; it's what goes on in your head for the three or four days between events. Some feed on that and others think they've done what they came here for and the rest is a bit of a bonus. If he thinks the rest is a bit of a bonus, he won't win.

"But if he thinks he can go down indelibly in British track and field as probably the greatest athlete we've produced, then yes. Is he hungry?

"It would be hard to argue against a guy winning the 5,000m and 10,000m at an Olympic level. It would be very difficult to take him out of the top four or five British performances of all times at a Games in a truly global sport. It's as complicated as it gets out there, and without the advantage of a team. He doesn't have Tour de France back-up. He got it right in the 10,000m. He was better when it mattered."

He was that. Nobody could catch Farah as he went into Fly Mo mode, hitting the front before the bell and cranking up the pace by degrees, like one of the Inquisition's thumbscrew operators. It destroyed the opposition, brought the 80,000 crowd to fever pitch, and secured his country's first Olympic gold in the 25-lap event.

For all of Britain's rich history of distance running, none of the greats had ever managed to win a 10,000m or 5,000m Olympic title. Brendan Foster attempted that double in Montreal in 1976 and finished third in the 10,000m and fifth in the 5,000m.

The man who launched the North-east running boom, and who will be in the BBC television commentary box tonight, knows the scale of the double task. He suspects that Farah will prove equal to it, though.

"I think 'Mo Farah, double Olympic champion' is a real possibility," Foster said yesterday. "I think Mo has got as equal a chance in the 5,000m as he had in the 10,000m.

"He had one of the greatest distance runners of all time to beat in the 10,000m, Kenenisa Bekele. He hasn't got one of the world's best distance runners to beat in the 5,000m.

"The recovery process is the key. That's the difference with what they do now and what we didn't do in the old days. As soon as they could after the 10,000m, they handed Mo a replenishment drink, with all the right carbohydrates and proteins in it. Then he had a massage. And then he went in a cryogenic chamber for 90 seconds at minus 70-odd degrees.

"What that does is cool your muscles down very quickly. It stops all the little tears that occur when you're exercising from bleeding and helps the recovery of the muscles."

It is all part of the appliance of science to which Farah has become accustomed since he joined Alberto Salazar's elite group of distance runners on the west coast of the United States early in 2011. The space age Cryosauna blasts liquid nitrogen at up to minus 300F to speed the recovery process. "It's like in war," Salazar told The Independent. "The soldier has to learn how to fight and be a one-man army. But then you try and equip him with every bit of top science, everything you can to keep him alive."

Salazar's foot soldier has already won one Olympic battle. We'll see tonight if mighty Mo can make it two.

Doubling up: Farah's distance challenge

Men to have won both 5,000m & 10,000m in the same Olympics:

2008 Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia)

1980 Miruts Yifter (Ethiopia)

1972 & 1976 Lasse Viren (Finland)

1956 Vladimir Kuts (Soviet Union)

1952 Emil Zatopek (Czechoslovakia)

1912 Hannes Kolehmainen (Finland)

While Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and Charlotte Dujardin have won two gold medals for Great Britain at this Olympics, Mo Farah can become the first to win two individual golds for Britain tonight.

Men to have won both 100m and 200m in the same Olympics:

2008 & 2012 Usain Bolt (Jamaica)

1984 Carl Lewis (US)

1972 Valeriy Borzov (Soviet Union)

1956 Bobby Morrow (US)

1936 Jesse Owens (US)

1932 Eddie Tolan (US)

1928 Percy Williams (Canada)

1912 Ralph Craig (US)

1904 Archie Hahn (US)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
News
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect