There was no fairytale ending to Sir Mo Farah’s track career in the end.
Despite going unbeaten since Daegu 2011, the 34-year-old had to settle for a silver medal in the men’s 5,000m. It saw him miss out on the opportunity to complete a fifth consecutive major with the ‘distance double’.
Nevertheless, it was Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris who scooped the gold medal, benefitting from tactical rotation by the east African team.
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Farah had been exhausted after a grueling 10,000m final that will endure as one of his hardest fought victories. The Ugandan and Kenyan teams tried to pacify the Olympic champion with a fast race but to no avail.
Yet there is no doubt that the longest track race took its toll and rival tactics worked far more effectively this time round. This is in spite of the fact Farah had compatriot Andrew Butchart for company with 800m to go.
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Along the back straight, though, gold looked unlikely and Farah’s fate was confirmed round the final bend.
A late attack from Paul Chelimo impeded Farah’s final push, boxing him in from the two Ethiopian athletes. It prevented the Brit from breaking out before a desperate attempt along the inside that salvaged silver.
And while you could trace defeat much farther back, Chelimo’s influence on the race was undoubted.
The climax of the competition can be seen here:
It perhaps proves uncanny when you consider the American’s antics just before the race. When the camera panned to him during the pre-race announcements, he made his intentions rather clear.
There was no lightning bolt but there was a ‘mobot’, preceded by a lighter version of the classic ‘cut-throat’ gesture. The moral of the story being that he had Farah’s demise in his sights ahead of the race.
Take a look at the gesture below:
In many ways, his plan did come to fruition in opening the door for Edris. However, it did his own race tactics no favours with the 26-year-old succumbing to Farah on the home straight to stride home for bronze.
It’s not the first time Chelimo has struck up controversy, with the American cutting something of an arrogant figure throughout the championships.
During his 5,000m heat in London, he was keen to strike up arguments with fellow athletes during the race and nearly felled Butchart.
Even if Chelimo had executed his intentions in full, though, he would never meet the reception Farah received upon crossing the line. He is, after all, one of the greatest distance runners in history and has more than a few medals to prove it.
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