Mo Farah became only the second man to retain both Olympic track long-distance titles on Saturday when he produced an utterly dominant performance to add the 5,000m gold to the 10,000 he collected a week ago for a glorious double-double.
Farah followed Finland’s Lasse Viren, who won both titles in 1972 and 1976, and having also done the double twice at the world championships he has now earned his place among the all-time greats of his sport.
The 33-year-old dealt with everything the field could throw at him, even taking up the pace midway through the race to stamp his authority on the race.
As ever, when it came to a last-lap showdown, nobody could live with his speed and he surged clear of a field that contained four men with faster personal bests but none with his track-craft and iron will.
“I hate to lose, I have that drive, it’s just me,” Farah told reporters.
“I can’t quite believe it. I wished for just one medal as a junior. It has been a long journey but if you dream of something, have ambitions and are willing to work hard then you can get your dreams.”
After a long-drawn out series of appeals and counter-claims, Kenyan-born American Paul Chelimo claimed the silver medal and Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet the bronze.
The medals were presented approaching midnight in a deserted stadium, a far cry from four years ago when Farah was acclaimed by 80,000 fans in his home city of London.
“I didn’t just fluke it in London, to do it again is incredible,” he said.
Despite his pedigree, it looked as if Saturday’s race might be Farah’s most testing of all as Ethiopian trio Dejen Gebremeskel, Muktar Edris and Gebrhiwet all passed up running in the 10,000m to concentrate on the shorter distance.
After so many races where the rest of the field played into his hands by going steadily and opening the door for a last-lap burn-up, Farah was initially presented with a different challenge as Gebremeskel and Gebrhiwet set off at a hot pace.
However, by the halfway point they seemed to have given up on that approach and Farah moved to the front to push the pace.
Once they reached the bell he refused to yield his inside lane position in a determined duel with Chelimo and, as so often before, had just too much pace over the final 120 metres.
“I was surprised by the first lap, I thought it was going to be a slow race. They had a plan, they wanted to take the sting out of me but when I hit the front, I wasn’t letting anyone past,” he said.
“My legs were a bit tired after the 10k I don’t now how I recovered.
“Now I just want to see my kids and hang this medal around their necks.”
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