There will come a day, over the next few years, when the mantle of world’s best male distance racer will go from Mo Farah, to someone else. Mo will move to the roads, and explore the major events around the world, add a few quid to his bank accounts and enjoy the last few years of his amazing career.
Who will succeed Mo Farah?
One of my suggestions is Geoffrey Kamworor. His race in Kampala told me alot about the Kenyan athlete. But with his win in Kampala, Geoffrey has, I believe, moved to another level.
The 10,000 meters is not a race for the faint of heart. You know, quite early in the 25 lapper, if you are going to have a good race or a bad race. In the Rio 10,000 meters, many Kenyans were putting their hopes on Geoffrey Kamworor, but it was not to be. Kamworor faded, and finished 11th place.
Such an event is devasting to an athlete. Athletes like Kamworor, on the rise and winning big races, get to the point where they feel that they may be invincable. Our sport of athletics does not gently remind us of anything. If you fall apart in the 10,000 meters or 5,000 meters, you are out of the race quickly and you are doing the survival shuffle.
I suggest that the 11th place in Rio was a wake up call for Mr. Kamworor. After the race, Geoffrey rested, and then, began his training for the Kampala World Cross Country. He wanted to defend his title and he wanted to show people that he was not, as we might say in the West, ‘a flash in the pan.’
Kamworor showed me more than speed and great fitness in Kampala. He showed me a sophisticated level of racing, which is not what he has shown before. In his half marathon wins, there was a push as hard as you can, break the field and move on. In order for Kamworor to win over 10,000 meters, he needs to be able to lurk, observe, focus and sprint off until the finish. The Kampala race was complicated.
Hot, humid conditions are one thing. The course was not easy, with barriers, high grass, challenging footing and fast, fast conditions. When Cheptegei took off, in the third lap, Kamworor did not panic, he stayed there. In the fourth lap, Cheptegai lead by eleven seconds. The IAAF radio was suggesting that the Ugandan runner was looking good, and could be the winner.
Kamworor kept his cool. He observed that Keptegai was faltering, and made up seven seconds in 500 meters, taking the lead with 800 meters to go, and moving away from the field. The level of sophistication that Geoffrey Kamworor showed in taking over the lead with 800 meters to go, sensing that Cheptegai was about to do his impersonation of 1908 Olympic marathoner Doriando Pietri, holding on for 30th, to give Uganda the bronze medal by three points!
Kamoror told the media afterwards that he knew Cheptegai would falter because he had went out too hard for the conditions. Kamworor saw the world cross country like a big chess game, and he kept his own counsel.
Geoffrey Kamworor is the 2017 World Cross Country Champion. He told the IAAF his goal is to win the 10,000 meters in London. He is better prepared than every before for the race, and the next few months will give him more time to develop his racing skills.
Can he defeat Mo Farah?
Only time will tell, but, Geoffrey Kamworor will be better equipped to do battle over the last 1000 meters, as he knows he can accelerate and make the race his, from his fine win in Kampala.
Geoffrey Kampala will keep his eyes on the prize.
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