It was a slow race in a strong field, but Mo Farah had the best kick as he leaped into history by winning the 5000 metres gold in 13 minutes 41.66 seconds, at the Olympic Stadium in front of an adoring crowd.
It was a historic double for the Briton, who slapped his head in his trade mark style with a bewildered expression on his face, after the finish. He had won the 10,000 metres gold earlier.
Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel, the world championship bronze medallist, was second in 13:41.98 while Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa of Kenya took the bronze in 13:42.36. It was a tactical race and the slowest since Mexico City in 1968.
The Ethiopians had said after Farah’s 10000m victory that they would attempt to run the strength out of him in the shorter race, so as to neutralise his finishing kick. They could not as Farah stayed among the top five as they passed 3000m in 8:42.95.
With three laps to go he moved up to third, and then to second close to Yenew Alamirew of Ethiopia. Farah hit the front with 700 metres to go and his training partner Galen Rupp of the US moved alongside him soon.
Gebremeskel made his move at the bell but Farah pulled ahead. Then Farah held off a threat from Longosiwa, while world silver medallist Bernard Lagat of US looked to threaten him, but Isiah Koech caught him from behind spoiling the former world champion’s chance of an Olympic medal.
The 29-year-old Farah joined the greats of distance running like Hannes Kolehmainen of Finland, Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia, Vladimir Kuts of Russia, Lasse Viren of Finland, Mruts Yifter and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia to win the long distance double at the Games. Lasse Viren did it twice in 1972 and 1976.
“To be part of that group is great,” said Farah, who had won the world championship gold in 5000m in Daegu, and the silver in the 10,000m. “The crowd was inspiring for sure. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have dug deep. The crowd just got louder and louder. I had to hold off until the last lap and try not to let them pass,” said Farah, as he said he did the sit-ups after the race to match doing the press-ups (of Bolt).
Quite modest, Farah who had moved away from Somalia as a kid, but had set up a ‘Mo Farah Foundation’ to help the children there, said that he was not the greatest ever British athlete and reeled off the names of Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram as the legends ahead of him.
He expressed great respect for the Africans, and recalled his training days in Kenya and how he had learnt a lot from them. “You think these guys are just untouchable, but if you believe it, you can get it with hard work, self-belief and a great coach like Alberto Salazar (US),” said Farah.
Though he eyed the marathon, Farah said that it was important to collect the medals when he was in a position to do so. “I still want to achieve more with the five kilometre and 10 kilometre. I want to collect as many medals as possible. This chance may not come again,” he said, adding that he wanted the two gold medals because his wife was expecting twins.
“I have been doing 120 miles a week. It has been hard and I am tired, but when you have a vision, when you have a dream, you dig in,” Farah said.