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Olympic Men’s 10,000m Final

 Mo with flag from article.wn.com

Part 3 of the year’s highlights finally brings us to the holy grail of global Athletics, the Olympic Games.

We may be making more than one stop at these Games before this highlights series is over. But this is the first, and this one is looking back at the Men’s 10,000m final.

4 August 2012

A magical Saturday evening in August. The height of summer. An incredible atmosphere swirling in the stadium of the blue riband sport of the Olympics.

Home ground advantage to Mo Farah. Years of build-up had come down to this. The challenge of the 5,000m may have loomed large on the horizon, but tonight was about only one thing, his first battle with sporting immortality, in the 10,000m.

Alongside him, and to the undoubted benefit of both runners, he had his training partner of recent years, and good friend, Galen Rupp. Their coach, Alberto Salazar was trackside, providing a calming influence on his athletic charges. Salazar was also there to shout splits and information during the race. His duo was taking on the might of distance running, currently residing in a small section of the planet we like to mark as East Africa. Kenya and Ethiopia. Mo and Galen would be attempting to wrestle a small portion of the global distance running magic away from East Africa and redistribute it in the western world, specifically in the UK and USA.

 

There are many excellent reports on the race itself and how it unfolded. Here’s what happened in a few badly worded sentences. The race went out slow; the Bekele brothers went to the front for a while and then slipped back into the pack. Then the Eritreans took up the running and Tadese took it out hard. You knew from then it was unlikely to slow much. Allegedly Galen was a bit antsy at this point and wanted to close the gap. Mo calmed him down and told him to save everything for the last lap. And so it went. The race ground everyone but the contenders out and on the final lap Mo unleashed his kick. The Bekeles went with him, Galen momentarily losing ground over the first 200. Galen came storming back over the final 200 as the Bekeles, first Kenenisa and then Tariku fell off Mo’s vicious kick. In the final 50m Galen was possibly the strongest of all, but Mo had it won and looked as though he may have had a drop more in the tank, albeit on the red line, should any “leaning over the precipice and looking into precisely nothing” be required.

Wikipedia’s typically factual and readable version is here. Here is another write up, by The Guardian this time. Or is the Telegraph more your cup of tea perhaps? The point is there are lots a great accounts.

And there are lots of great accounts because it was big news. Massive news. Huge news. The kind of news that turns runner’s names into household names, even if only for a few months until the football season starts up again. But I’m not going to be cynical. Mo’s run is worth more than that.

And behind him (and just behind him at that) Galen’s run was worth as much again. mo and galen from img.bleacherreport.netThe image of Galen beating everyone besides Mo was one of my favourite images from the Olympics. Let’s work through that again. He beat both Bekele brothers, Tariku and Kenenisa. He beat all the Kenyans. He won a medal at the sport’s highest table.

What about Alberto Salazar? Surely the last word has to go to him. His charges finished first and second. They took on the best the world had to offer and they beat them.

YouTube has the entire race archived for your viewing pleasure.

 

If you have the time I recommend watching it again. If you live in the UK, it is mandatory. Watch it now or face the downright unpleasantness of me turning up at your front door tonight to find out why you didn’t. The reason better be good.

The race was special and the moment was special. For Mo, for Galen and for their many supporters who had followed their respective paths to witness this night, at the pinnacle of their craft.

I don’t have much more to add. This was my emotional highlight of the Games and of the year.

Here are the results to savour one more time.

Pos Name Nationality Time Notes
1 Mo Farah Great Britain

27:30.42

 
2 Galen Rupp United States

27:30.90

 
3 Tariku Bekele Ethiopia

27:31.43

 
4 Kenenisa Bekele Ethiopia

27:32.44

 
5 Bedan Muchiri Kenya

27:32.94

 
6 Zersenay Tadese Eritrea

27:33.51

 
7 Teklemariam Medhin Eritrea

27:34.76

 
8 Gebre Gebremariam Ethiopia

27:36.34

 
9 Polat Arikan Turkey

27:38.81

PB
10 Moses Kipsiro Uganda

27:39.22

 
11 Cameron Levins Canada

27:40.68

 
12 Moses Masai Kenya

27:41.34

 
13 Dathan Ritzenhein United States

27:45.89

 
14 Robert Kajuga Rwanda

27:56.67

PB
15 Nguse Tesfaldet Eritrea

27:56.78

 
16 Thomas Ayeko Uganda

27:58.96

 
17 Moukheld Al-Outaibi Saudi Arabia

28:07.25

 
18 Mohammed Ahmed Canada

28:13.91

 
19 Matthew Tegenkamp United States

28:18.26

 
20 Ben St.Lawrence Australia

28:32.67

 
21 Diego Estrada Mexico

28:36.19

 
22 Yuki Sato Japan

28:44.06

 
23 Ayad Lamdassem Spain

28:49.85

 
24 Daniele Meucci Italy

28:57.46

 
25 Christopher Thompson Great Britain

29:06.14

 
26 Mykola Labovskyy Ukraine

29:32.12

 
  Ali Hasan Mahboob Bahrain

DNF

 
  Bayron Piedra Ecuador

DNF

 
  Wilson Kiprop Kenya

DNF

 

 

 

Highlights of 2012. Part 1. NIA Indoor 2-mile

Highlights of 2012. Part 2. Big City Marathons

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The absolute legend that is Kenenisa Bekele.

Something I’ve been thinking about with mild melancholy for some time: Are we in the throes of a changing of the guard within the very top echelon of distance running? Will we look back on this time as the phase when he became beatable again?

It seems to me he may be vulnerable at the moment. Not in any sense other than that he may not be the absolute belter he was three, four or five years ago. Look, let’s keep some perspective, he could show up at just about any race the world over and win. But things have changed there’s no denying it.

His record at the world cross country champs will never be beaten. I can make that unequivocal statement because the short race has now been removed from the program, and for someone to match his 11 individual gold medals would require too much longevity at the top, a minimum of 11 years in fact. So I’ll throw that out there (it’s not a bold statement at all when you consider it). But since his DNF at the 2007 world champs where Zersenay Tadese stomped all over him in the blistering Nairobi heat, he hasn’t had the same dominating success. Caveat: He did win it the following year in Edinburgh, in amazing fashion after his shoe came off and he stopped to retie it and still came back to win! But last year he didn’t run and Gebremariam stepped in to ensure the individual title stayed in Ethiopia. This year it’s looking unlikely that he will run. He is refusing to commit one way or the other at this stage, and why should he? But if he does compete I’m not sure he will come away victorious.

2010 has not been kind to KB as yet. It began as it has for the past few years, with him competing in Edinburgh at the World Cross Challenge meeting held around the foothills of Arthur’s seat, Holyrood Park. A nasty place to run, hilly and twisty, but with good memories for the king, having won his most recent World XC title there. But this year it was different. A cold snowy January had resulted in a lot of snow still sitting on the course. “White mud” as Hayley Yelling called it. KB was beaten, and well-beaten at that, by a trio of Kenyans. The enormity of their achievement, whilst not lost on the runners themselves, was largely underplayed by the commentary and the resulting media. In fact, it was huge. When had KB ever been beaten as a senior in a cross country race?? Aside from his DNF at Worlds 2007… um…never. And this wasn’t losing out in a mad-sprint finish either, this was a relentless pounding that broke him with almost half of the race remaining. He seemed untroubled in the interview immediately afterwards but I get the feeling that as more time passed, it sunk in a bit and it shook him up, being beaten like that; and as a result he has lost some confidence and the aura of invincibility (even if only in his head).

The 2008 World Champs in Berlin seems a long time ago all of a sudden. He was pushed in the 5k by Bernard Lagat and came up trumps in a cracking final few laps and final sprint; and again knocked over his 10k rival Zersenay Tadese in the 10k. So no chinks in the armour then…

I had been eagerly anticipating his indoor performances this year, especially his hyped world record attempt over 3k in our own NIA in Birmingham. He pulled out of the event the night before, citing a calf injury. Disappointing but oh well. He had to have been pretty close to competing otherwise he wouldn’t have left the announcement so late, would he?

A couple of weeks later and another much publicised attack on the 3k mark, this time in Liévin. Again he withdrew at the last minute, citing the same injury. Surely if this injury had troubled him enough to pull out of Birmingham and troubled him enough to pull out of Lievre two weeks later on the day before the event again, he’d have known in between that he couldn’t make the Liévin meet? I read all about the “only in spikes” reasoning etc, but I’m just saying.

Conspiracy theory: Whilst I think he does have some sort of calf niggle, it’s not that that is stopping him from competing. I suspect he is trying to get himself into shape and hit the splits in particular workouts he has that will tell him he is in the right form to have a crack at the world record. After the years of dominance you can be sure he has a pretty concrete package of workouts he can run through and that he knows will get him into world-smashing shape. Am I talking shit? Probably.

Still, it’s nothing more than the musings of a fan, and he could disprove everything by delivering a world crushing performance in Poland. That would set him up for a great European summer on the track and make all this speculation look even more foolish than it already does.

If, however, he does continue to struggle with his calf injury and is unable to race World XC, or set any more records on the track, it will be the drawing to a close of the most magnificent distance-event track athlete we have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. And the dusk on his track career may well prove to be the dawn of his road running career, and by road running career I mean one thing, the Marathon. Another chapter in his running life and may it be just as successful as his track career has been, even with the bar set in the cirrus, as it is.

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