Magical Mo Farah races into land of legends during London 2012

Brilliant Farah cuts the opposition to pieces to complete his historic double amid euphoric scenes

The Olympic Stadium

As a youngster growing up in Hounslow on the west side of London, Mohammed Farah had posters of Muhammad Ali covering his bedroom wall. In terms of poundage, the flyweight British distance runner is no match for the hallowed heavyweight champion. After delivering the second part of a momentous one-two to his rivals in the ring of London 2012's showpiece arena last night, though, Mo Farah can lay claim to being the greatest.

The slip of a 29-year-old is certainly the finest male British distance runner of all time and the best in the world at present. In the opinion of no less an authority than Sebastian Coe, however, he should now be regarded as the greatest British track and field Olympian of all-time.

Nobody in the delirious 80,000 crowd was advancing a counter-argument last night. Just like the Lightning Bolt in the individual sprints, Britain's very own running phenomenon struck for a second time at the Games of the XXX Olympiad.

When it came to the home straight in the 5,000m final, with what seemed like half the world gathering at his shoulder ready to pounce, the Fly Mo shifted into top gear and cut the opposition to shreds.

First Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya and then Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia attempted to overtake, but the mighty Mo resisted them both, surging forward into the annals of history. The place erupted as Farah crossed the line 0.32sec ahead of Gebremeskel. The time, a pedestrian 13min 41.66sec, was an irrelevance. The achievement was anything but. Farah dropped to the track and performed some sit-ups as the sound of David Bowie blasting over the public address system. A hero just for one day? For the rest of his life, more like.

Just like the planet's pre-eminent sprinter, the new British king of distance running – winner of the 10,000m final seven days previously – entered the record books as a legend in his own right. In the 116 years of the modern Olympic Games, only six men had ever completed the 5,000m and 10,000m double: Hannes Kolehmainenen (1912), Emil Zatopek (1952), Vladimir Kuts (1956), Lasse Viren (1972 and 1976), Miruts Yifter (1980) and Kenenisa Bekele (2008).

Now a Briton is the seventh – the magnificent seventh. "It's just unbelievable," Farah said. "I knew I just had to hold on at the end. I couldn't have done it without the crowd. The noise they made when I came off the bend was like when there's a goal at the Emirates.

"These two medals are for my two girls that are coming," he added, referring to the twins his wife Tania is carrying. "They're not born yet, hopefully. There's one for each."

The delivery of the second golden birth gift came after something of a pregnant pause. The 12-and-a-half-lap race did not begin in earnest until four laps to go. Farah started at the very back of the 15-man field as his rivals set off at a dawdle. After 1,000 metres he moved from the back to the very front but without injecting any meaningful pace.

It was all part of the phoney war. Only when the final mile was entered did the real battle commence. The Ethiopians Yenew Alamirew and Gebremeskel were prominent as the pace upped significantly.

Farah maintained perfect positioning all through the race and with 500 metres to go he and Galen Rupp, his American training partner, led the way. At the bell Longosiwa tried to force his way past but Farah held his ground. He continued to do so all the way to the line – even when the Kenyan and Gebremeskel applied severe pressure.

Chants of "Mo! Mo! Mo!" rang around the arena and Farah performed his "Mobot" celebration routine. Bolt did the same in a respectful nod to a fellow great as he carried the Jamaican baton across the line in world record time in the 4 x 100m relay final that was to follow. "Usain Bolt is a legend," Farah said. "For him to do the Mobot when he's going across breaking a world record is unbelievable."

It was the fourth gold of the Games for Britain in the athletics arena but the team are destined (barring a miracle in the men's marathon today) to finish two gongs short of their overall target of eight medals.

The talk of the track last night was that head coach Charles van Commenee would follow through with his pledge to resign as head coach rather than try to hold on to it by the gold difference.

There was a time, believe it or not, when Midas Mo was in danger of squandering his world-beating talent. He was known as a party animal, on one occasion jumping naked into the Thames from Kingston Bridge. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008 he was knocked out in the 5,000m heats.

Four years on, he has got his reward for knuckling down to hard graft. "It has been a long journey," the double Olympic champ reflected. "I have been grafting and grafting for this. It hasn't been easy but it's all been worth it."

Olympic long-distance magnificent seven

Mo Farah last night became the seventh man to achieve the feat of winning both 5,000m and 10,000m in the same Olympics. He also became the first Brit to win two individual gold medals at this Olympics.

The full list of men to have won both 5,000m and 10,000m at the same Olympics reads:

2012 Mo Farah (Great Britain)

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)

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit