Mo Farah decides to end his career after losing 5k and 10k to Ethiopians
(The Telegraph) — After six years, 10 straight global titles and four double golds, the Ethiopians finally found a way to beat him in his last big track race.
Sir Mo Farah’s conqueror even had the audacity to celebrate with a ‘Mobot’ as Britain’s most successful track-field-athlete collapsed to the floor in tears.
His shock was shared by 56,000 people packed into the London Stadium who came to witness history repeat itself five years on from Farah’s glorious Olympic 5,000 metres and 10,000m double at the same venue.
But just as with Usain Bolt in his farewell 100m exactly a week earlier, Farah’s final big 5,000m proved a race too far.
“[I] had tears in my eyes,” he said afterwards. “Never had that before.
“I felt, ‘Wow’. It’s been an amazing journey. To achieve what I have achieved through the years has been incredible.
“And to end it in London, what a way. This is where it all started and I got little emotional because I look at my family, I look at what I’ve done and it gets to you because, at the end of the day, I’m just a human.”
Indeed, there was no shame in defeat in a contest where Farah’s rivals once again made dethroning him their number one priority.
Finishing behind Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris even made the Briton’s achievement in winning an unprecedented 10 successive major championship titles all the more impressive.
“If you look at the history, history doesn’t lie,” he said. “What I’ve achieved for the last six, seven years has been incredible and it just shows what kind of person I am and what it takes to be champion.”
For Farah, the warning signs had been there in a brutal 10,000m eight days earlier, when the Kenyans and Ethiopians threw everything at him.
This time, it appeared they had were handing him the race on a plate, with laps being completed at jogging pace but for a couple of half-hearted breakaways and victory seemingly there for the taking for the man with the fastest finish in the field.
But it was a double-bluff.
With a lap remaining, Edris and his fellow Ethiopians Yomif Kejelcha and Selemon Barega surged to the front, boxing in Farah, who went into the home straight in fourth place with no chance of gold and with it all to do to claim silver.
Unlike a week earlier, when there was an obvious pantomime villain to jeer in Justin Gatlin when Bolt was beaten into third, the crowd were not sure how to react.
As Farah got to his feet, they rightly gave him the ovation his efforts on Saturday night – he finally ended Great Britain’s London 2017 medal drought – and over the previous six years deserved.
Admitting he had been outmanoeuvred, Farah said: “I got boxed in early on – it doesn’t normally happen – but I got boxed in early and couldn’t get out.”
Claiming to have been tired after his 10,000m exertions and 5,000m heats, he added: “Without watching the race, it’s difficult to say, ‘I did this wrong and that wrong’. I know myself, when I crossed the line, there was nothing left of me. There was nothing left of me. I gave it all.”
He refused to criticise the Ethiopians’ tactics or Edris’s ‘Mobot’, which he said he saw as a sign of “respect”.
“You have to give credit to Edris, they had a game plan and it was three against one,” he added.
“They had to sacrifice one of them and it was Kejelcha, who didn’t get a medal.
“Edris sat at the back, and did as little work as possible to then hit me on the last lap. That was their plan.”
It had been a party atmosphere before then, a Mexican ovation following Farah around the track as the laps counted down.
He and they had every reason to feel confident.
Farah had looked imperious in winning the 10,000m, conducting the crowd in the middle of the race and shrugging off bumps and bruises to run his second quickest time ever. He lost that prestige too to Ibrahim Jeilan.
He was all smiles when he took to the track last night, waving regally to the stands before playfully shadow boxing and beating his chest to the cameras.
But it was Edris who had the last laugh, the 23-year-old saying afterwards: “I was highly prepared for this race and I knew I was going to beat Mo Farah.
“After the 10km, he was maybe tired so he did not have enough for the last kick. I was stronger.
“Mo has many victories but now I have one. I am the new champion for Ethiopia. That’s why I did the Mobot. I am the next champion.
“I have won the gold in front of his home crowd. I didn’t have much support but we did it. I did the Mobot out of respect as well for him.”
Kenya-born Paul Chelimo, who claimed bronze for USA, said: “I think the Ethiopians had a plan because I think Kejelcha was out there to push the pace early and try and dampen Mo Farah’s kick.”
Farah has two more races left on the track this month before seeing out what remains of his career on the road.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “It’s been a long journey but it’s been incredible. It doesn’t quite sink in until you compete here and cross the line – I had a couple of minutes to myself – that this is it.”
Farah also reflected on his incredible transformation since appointing the controversial Alberto Salazar as his coach in 2011.
Admitting he had considered quitting the sport beforehand, he said: “I had to make the decision to make it. That meant moving to the other side of the world. But nothing was guaranteed.”
On his future plans, he added: “I’ve a few more races planned. After that, I want to take a break then see what I can do on the road. But in terms of my life, this chapter’s done. It’s closed. This is it. Track is done.”