Mo Farah can do the double and win 5,000m, says Sebastian Coe
Sunday 05 August 2012
Mo Farah has the chance to write his name into Olympic history next week - and Sebastian Coe believes he has timed his medal charge to perfection.
Farah, who was roared home in spine-tingling fashion by a jubilant crowd to win the 10,000m in the Olympic stadium yesterday, can make it double gold in the 5,000m on Saturday.
Not since Finland's Lasse Viren in 1976 has a runner done the double at those distances, but Coe, twice Olympic champion at 1,500m, believes the 29-year-old has done everything right so far.
"Timing is everything, particularly in distance events," said Coe, the London 2012 chairman. "If you watched Mo run a few weeks ago at Crystal Palace, he was running well but he looked slightly laboured that night. That was the moment they decided, clearly, to start tapering down.
"At that level it is not about getting it right even to the day, it is literally presenting the athlete on the start line for that very moment. That's the tough side of what they did, and they got it right. They got it pitch perfect."
The deafening support of the crowd in the Olympic Stadium could be a crucial factor.
Farah admitted the atmosphere in the stadium - likened by Coe to Cathy Freeman's 400m triumph in Sydney in 2000 - had made all the difference in the 10,000m.
"If it wasn't for the crowd and the support and people shouting out my name and putting their Union Jacks up I don't think it would have happened," he said.
Farah's path to Olympic glory owes much to an "Anglo-American" alliance to boost both countries' chances in distance running, according to his American coach Alberto Salazar, whom he linked up with in 2010.
Farah's training partner Galen Rupp finished in silver medal spot and the runners had planned to help each other out if they encountered any problems during the race.
Salazar said the victory was the result of a determined campaign to help both Britain and the USA.
He said: "American fortunes had gone down for 20 years and British fortunes had also gone down in distance running.
"Over the last three years or so I forged an alliance with Ian Stewart and UK Athletics endurance.
"Ian and I have worked closely together - and [UKA head coach] Charles Van Commenee has been very supportive and our goal is sort of an Anglo-America alliance - to get Brits and Americans out there that can compete and win medals.
"We showed we've got the model, we just need the support to duplicate it to get more young Brits, more young Americans in good programmes like we're running together and I think we can have more of this."
Meanwhile, Farah has spelled out his pride at winning gold for Great Britain - he came to Britain as an eight-year-old from Somalia and has his own charitable foundation to raise money for famine relief in that part of Africa, but has no split loyalties.
Asked whether it would have meant more if he had been running for the country of his birth, the Londoner responded passionately.
"Not at all mate," he said. "This is my country and since I was eight years old this is where I grew up.
"This is where I started life, this is where I went to uni, this is where's the people I know, this is my country and everything else and when I put on my Great Britain vest I'm proud, very proud, that's my country."
Farah admitted that he had to knuckle down and put his love of socialising with his friends behind him - and he said it took the example of Kenyan athletes with whom he shared a house in London for a time - to put him on the path to Olympic glory.
"When I was at uni I was not taking running very seriously, I loved going out with the boys," he said.
"The Kenyans just ate, slept and trained and it just dawned on me that if I'm going to be as good as these guys I was going to do what they do."
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
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