7 August 2013

Africa: Double Olympic Champion Mo Farah Says He Is Even Better Now

Just before the Anniversary Games in London at the end of July, Mo Farah watched his Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres races for the first time. "I'm definitely a better athlete now," said the Briton after a review of his efforts.

Such an evaluation can only strike fear into the hearts and minds of his rivals. Farah claimed gold over both distances last summer at the Olympic Park in east London.

By doing so he became only the seventh man to achieve the feat. The list of previous double Olympic champions includes Emil Zatopek, Lasse Viren and Kenenisa Bekele.

A year ago Farah had the raucous support of 80,000 odd in the stadium. But he won't have that wall of sound as he bounds round the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

However, what he will have is form. "He has every weapon in his armoury to win in any way he wants," said Lord Coe, the chairman of the British Olympic Association.

This isn't just chauvinistic tubthumping but the insight of a double Olympic champion over 1500 metres.

"We know he can run from the front if he has to and we know he can make a long for home if he wants to," drooled Coe.

Farah's speed was in evidence when he ran the 1500 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco in early July.

The 30-year old ran 3 mins 28.81 seconds. It was the sixth fastest time over the distance.

At the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Park - now renamed the Queen Elizabeth Park - he was the crowd pleaser easing home in the 3000 metres in 7 mins 36.85 seconds.

Farah won the 5,000 metres at the world championships in Daegu and he was the favourite going into the 10,000 metres. But he was pipped by the Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan.

That disappointment at the finishing tape fired the training programme under Alberto Salazar that brought him ultimate dividends in front of the adoring home crowds a year later.

Farah says he's able to profit from the lack of attention as he goes about his life and work in Portland in Oregon with Salazar. There'd be no such anonymity in Britain where he is one of the biggest stars in athletics.

The double Olympic title also means he's no longer obscure on the track. Indeed he believes he'll be a marked man during both the defence of his 5,000 metres title as well as the 10,000 metres and expects the Ethiopians and the Kenyans to gang up on him.

There's been altitude training in St Moritz, Switzerland, in preparation for the duels. And he'll descend to Moscow with what he considers peak form.

"I've never been this happy in my life," he declared. "I'm enjoying running and doing what I do, instead of thinking that I have to do something.

"I'm definitely stronger, more experienced but it all depends on the championships. You have to go and do it when it matters."

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