Farah enjoys long-distance journey to perfection – and now for 5,000m


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The Independent Online

It could have all been so very different. When Mo Farah moved to Europe as an eight-year-old, Britain was not his only possible destination. "Yes, I almost went to the Netherlands instead of coming to Britain," he recalled. "My grandmother mother lives there."

Instead, happily, it was in the vivid colours of the Union flag that Farah was draped as he completed his journey to Olympic greatness on Saturday night. It was quite a sojourn for the 29-year-old: from war-torn Somalia, to Djibouti, to west London, to the west coast of the United States – and into the home straight in London's magnificent Olympic Stadium with 80,000 souls screaming at fever pitch.

As Farah (right) crossed the line – the first Briton to win the blue riband event of distance running, the prized Olympic 10,000m crown – his sheer joy was compounded when he turned round to see Galen Rupp sprinting to the silver medal in the bright red vest of the United States. "We work so hard together and we have a good laugh together," Farah said. "He's one of my best friends. I'm just so happy that he finished second."

Since early last year Farah has been based in Portland in the north-west corner of the United States, putting in the hard yards with Rupp as part of the "Oregon Project," the programme set up in 2001 by the former marathon great Alberto Salazar with a view to getting US distance runners back on global championship podiums. Welcoming Farah on board has been mutually beneficial to a burgeoning Anglo-American alliance.

"The emotion when they stepped over the line was overwhelming, greater than anything I did in my own athletics career," Salazar, a triple New York marathon winner, said. "Apart from getting married, marrying my wife and my kids' births, it was the best feeling I've ever had."

It was the same for Farah, who celebrated on the track with his wife Tania and daughter Rihanna after executing his tactics to perfection, cranking up the pace by degrees after hitting the front just before the bell, crossing the line in 27min 30.42sec. "It's the best day of my life," he said. "It doesn't get any better than this – winning the Olympics in the town where you grew up and went to school."

It could get better. Farah will go into the 5,000m as the man to beat in that event too. The heats are on Wednesday and the final on Saturday.