In praise of Mo Farah

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To give you an idea of how well Mo Farah just run: until the Olympics, his best time in the 10,000 metres this year was only the 7th fastest any athlete had run in 2012. In the 5,000 metres, he wasn’t (and still isn’t) one of the fastest ten runners over the distance this year.

The genius of the race was that, in contrast to the 10,000 metres, which the other athletes gifted to Farah by refusing to lead from the front, leaving the race to whoever could sprint fastest, the 5k was a proper fight. Farah had to impose himself on the race. Into the last lap, he was leading from only 2-3 metres including from one athletes who is a specialist 1500 metres runners and should be expected to have a faster kick.

You can see how much better Farah ran in the 5k by the position of his training partner David Rupp in the two races: 2nd in the 10k, but only 7th in the 5k. Be clear: Rupp is a fantastic athlete in his own right. The only difference between him and Farah is desire.

And to run under 53 seconds in the last lap … To give you a comparison – David Rudisha just ran laps of 50 and 51 seconds in the 800 metres, and in doing so broke the world record. Farah was barely slower over his last lap having run six times as far.

Brendan Foster described it as the “greatest single moment in British athletics in my lifetime” – and this from a man who ran at three Olympics, won European and Commonwealth golds and was a world record holder.

If we are going to have a greatest British runner ever – wouldn’t you want it to be a Muslim who came here as a refugee, who was educated at a comprehensive and then an FE college, who lived with his partner for years before marrying her, and who worked in pizza restaurants before he was a professional athlete – rather than lifelong Tory Seb Coe?

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