Mo Farah in spring with Albert Rop, photo by Getty Images/British Athletics
Updated February 21, 2017
How fickle we track fans and reporters are. In 2008, Mo Farah was knocked out of the 5000 meter final in Beijing. Eight years later, Mo Farah is preparing for his final World Outdoor championships. Today, Mo Farah ran his last indoor race.
His career began to change in 2009, as, with the support of UK Endurance, Mo Farah began to focus on high altitude training, but also, the art of racing.
His first indoor title, over 3000 meters, was run in Torino at the European Indoor Champs. The following summer, Mo Farah won the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters. With the support of UK Endurance head Ian Stewart, Mo Farah began to develop and, for me, his 10,000 meters in Eugene, Oregon in 2011, where he not only won, but decimated the British record, showed that Mo Farah had become a true racer.
For the past seven years, we have watched Mo Farah win the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters in London 2012, Moscow 2013, Beijing 2015, Rio 2016, plus the Europeans in 2014! And it all started with his gutty silver in Daegu for the 10,000 meters-the last time he lost a major championships,, and his gold medal in Daegu over the 5000 meters.
How soon we forget!
But this was Mo Farah's last indoor race, and the crowd, his crowd, wanted something special-and Mo Farah surely gave it to them!
Here is how I saw the last indoor race by Mo Farah (February 18, 2017):
Mo Farah is the finest distance racer in the world. Last night it was clear, in speaking with the current UK endurance chief and past UK endurance chief, those being Dr. Barry Fudge and Ian Stewart, that Mo Farah is a racer. From the time Ian Stewart suggested that Mo Farah train with Alberto Salazar, Mo Farahs' confidence in racing and his racing tactics have improved to make him the finest racer over 5000 meters and 10,000 meters in the world.
Today, is part of the evolution of the runner, Mo Farah. After the London World Champs, Mo Farah will, more than likely, become focused on the roads, to see just how good of a racer he is over the marathon and half marathon distance.
So, today was his last indoor race.
After a disappointing race in Edinburgh in January, Mo Farah went to Ethiopia for a stint of training, just returning for this race, and then, off to another month in Ethiopia. Mo gets very fit focusing on high altitude training (10,000 feet), and he looked the part at the presser on Friday.
The 5000 meters was a record run. His last sojourn over the 5000 meters indoors had not resulted with a British record due to a technicality, so the 13:22.17 NR and 13:10.66 was the best.
Mo Farah was on a mission.
The pace was good, as the hit the 1000m in 2:36.80, 2000 meters in 5:15.90 and 3000m in 7:53.82. Mo Farah looked himself, floating, focused and the crowed was getting riled up. Many of these races in the UK for Mo were always part of his race prep for the big races. A fast finish, a pretty good level of competition.
Well, Albert Ropp was not told that. So, he was out there to win. 3200 meters in 8:28.63 (miles in 4:12, 4:16), as Ropp lead with Farah right there.
Mo Farah is expected to win constantly. It is just not possible. I recall an interview with Haile Gebrselassie in about 2006, " I am expected to win all races." Haile told me, noticeably annoyed.
Mo Farah has to feel that sometimes.
But in this race, his last indoor race, he wanted to win, and he wanted the British NR at 5000 meters. So, he persisted.
4000 meters was passed in 10:36.27, just two and one half minutes of running. And there were four people right there!
4200 meters was passed in 11:09 with Albert Ropp still leading, and Mo did not take the lead until 500 meters to go, with Ropp right there. 4600 meters was passed in 12:15 and Ropp did not fall back. In fact, Albert Ropp went by and Mo Farah had to go by one final time, with the race down to one lap! Mo Farah held off Albert Ropp around the final turn, to the delight of the crowd, who was there to see the ending of one British great and the coronation of another British great!
Mo Farah came off the final turn sprinting, and, gaining some space from Albert Ropp, broke the tape in a clear NR, 13:09.16, a new British record. Albert Ropp held on, running a PB of 13:09.43.
Not only did Mo Farah break the British record of Nick Rose (13:22.7), but also the European record of Bob Tahri (France, 13:11.7).
For Mo, this was an emotional event. He knows that he had to call it a day on the track. One can not run the boards, and be a top marathoner (well Frank Shorter did, two Olympic medals and AR at two miles indoors), the way that Mo Farah trains.
As writers and fans, we will see him less frequently, on the roads that on the track. I have enjoyed the interviews and his races, and will hope to get my Mo Farah needs at Ostrava, Pre and perhaps a few others.
But for now, lets savor a fine 13:09.17 after five weeks of hard training.
And now, for Mo Farah, it is au revoir Muller Indoor GP and off to Ethiopia!