Life will never be the same after London 2012 as Mo Farah joins all-time greats

 

It was the morning after the night before. Or possibly the Knight before? Having put his rivals to the sword for a second Super Saturday in the home straight of the electric Olympic Stadium, the British runner who has joined the hallowed greats of distance running with his golden 5,000m-10,000m double was asked: "What would Sir Mo feel like?"

"Yeah, right!" Mo Farah said, beaming his 24-carat smile. "I don't know. I've never thought about it. It would be amazing."

One thing is for certain: life will never be the same for the 29-year-old Londoner who has lit up these hometown Games with his stellar performances on the track and his megawatt demeanour. That much was clear when the Fly Mo stood on the top step of the podium, swapping poses with the Lightning Bolt.

Farah is some way yet from being on level terms with Usain Bolt as a global phenomenon; that much was brought home in the Saturday night partying when his daughter, Rihanna, was more excited about getting a hug from the Jamaican who had won a third gold medal, performing a "Mobot" as he brought the 4x100m relay baton home in world-record time, than with her father striking gold for a second time in eight days. Still, with his home Olympic heroics, Farah has elevated himself to the status of national treasure and also all-time great of distance running.

As he hared down the home straight on the last lap of the 5,000m final on Saturday, with what seemed like half the world trying to get past him and the whole of Britain roaring him on, the slip of a Somali-born runner became the magnificent seventh member of the club who have achieved the men's 5,000m-10,000m double at an Olympic Games, following in the footsteps of Hannes Kolehmainen (1912), Emil Zatopek (1952), Vladimir Kuts (1956), Lasse Viren (1972 and 1976), Miruts Yifter (1980) and Kenenisa Bekele (2008). As the weight of the accomplishment started to sink in yesterday, Farah reflected on the wisdom of his decision to move to the west coast of the United States 18 months ago to join the stable of elite distance runners coached by the three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar, as part of his "Oregon Project" in Portland.

"There were a lot of questions asked at the time because I was double European champion," he said. "People were saying, 'Why are you changing when things are going so well?' But in my mind I knew something had to change.

"It was a gamble but if I hadn't made that change, I don't think I would be sitting here with two gold medals today. All those guys were queuing up to pass me and I could feel that I wasn't going to let anyone past. It was an incredible feeling. In training I am learning and doing a lot of hard training and I can feel that I am stronger. I wasn't able to finish races strong in the past.

"I was weak. I had to work on my strength. Alberto said I ran like a girl, in terms of not using my arms when I was sprinting. When I was tired I was all over the place. That's what I mean by weak. So we strengthened my core. Alberto is a genius. He's an honest guy and a great coach."

So what now for the Mighty Mo then? There is a two-mile race at the Birmingham Grand Prix on 26 August and then the Great North Run half-marathon on 16 September. Beyond that, the full marathon beckons. Plus a possible royal anointment.

 

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