LONDON, Aug 5, (AFP): British athletics legend Mo Farah won his 10th successive global title winning the 10,000 metres world crown at the London Stadium where he won Olympic gold in 2012.
The 34-year-old, who will bid to add a third successive world double in the 5000m later in the championships, had a narrow escape from disaster on the final lap when he was clipped twice but somehow kept his balance to prevail.
Ugandan youngster Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda took silver and Paul Tanui of Kenya claimed bronze with Farah having once again foiled their respective nations’ tactics.
“It makes me proud to be British. It’s been a long journey, it’s been incredible,” said Farah who was accompanied by his family on a lap of honour. “It’s been hard but I’m just mentally strong I guess.”
He added: “It was amazing tonight, I had to get my head around it. I got a bit emotional at the start and then I just had to get in the zone. It has all been amazing.
“I knew at 12 laps to go when they went hard from there I knew it was going to be tough. It was about believing in my sprint finish and knowing that I have been in that position before. It helped a lot having that experience.”
The Ugandans and the Kenyans deployed their strategy of ‘surging’ with them alternating the lead pace so as not to allow Farah to get into a rhythm.
Two-time world cross-country champion Geoffrey Kamworor took up the pace with over 21 laps to run — Farah was seventh from the back but looking comfortable.
Kamworor exchanged the lead with Cheptegei, the 20-year-old performing the same role as he had in the Olympic final in Rio.
Farah moved along in around 12th as Kamworor and compatriot Tanui injected more pace up front and the trio of Ethiopians loomed large on the scene.
However, Farah decided with 14 laps remaining to show them he was unaffected by their tactics accelerating down the finishing straight to briefly head the field.
The Kenyans resumed their control up front soon afterwards and upped the pace recording a lap of 61 seconds with the Ugandans tucked in behind them and Farah 11th.
However, each time they thought they had him on the ropes Farah also sped up although Kamworor deliberately slowed it down recording a lap of 67 seconds.
With nine laps to go the pace setting was taken up by young Eritrean Aron Kifle but despite the constant changing of pace Farah despite being elbowed looked comfortable.
With 2000m to the tape Cheptegei led the field but was then passed by the fastest man in the world this year Ethiopian Abadi Hadis, who looked in ominously good shape.
With two laps to go Farah moved up to the shoulder of Hadis, passing him down the back straight, and as the bell rang he looked up at the big screen to see how his rivals were behind him.
Despite the two clippings Farah held his nerve and was able to repel one final challenge from the relentless Cheptegei to cross the line with fireworks going off to celebrate his feat.
South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk and Elaine Thompson of Jamaica two athletes who the sport’s authorities hope will take up the baton after the retirement of superstar Usain Bolt coasted through their heats at the world championships on Saturday.
400m world record holder Van Niekerk — who has trained with Bolt’s group and is hoping to emulate Michael Johnson in the 1995 world championship and do the 200/400m double — was content to allow Costa Rican Nery Brenes to have his moment in the sun in his heat for 350 metres before he upped a gear to saunter across the line in front — Brenes day turned sour as he was subsequently disqualified.
Young American Fred Kerley looked very impressive in strolling to victory in his heat, the 22-year-old all but pulling up in the final 50 metres — leaving experienced campaigners such as Belgium’s 2010 European champion Kevin Borlee trailing in his wake although the 29-year-old took one of the other automatic qualifying spots in third.
Botswana’s Africa champion Baboloki Thebe signalled he would be a live medal contender with an impressive performance in winning his heat ad make up for the 20-year-old’s disappointment of injury preventing him from taking his place in the Olympic semi-finals last year.
He was joined in the semi-finals by compatriot Isaac Makwala, who won his heat beating American veteran two-time world champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt.
Thompson danced through the rain to book her place in the 100 metres semi-finals whilst bitter rival Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands also looked in smart form in finishing second in her heat.
Schippers, who admits her relationship with 100m and 200m Olympic champion Thompson is ‘very bad’, has moved mountains to redress the gap between herself and the Jamaican including working on her start.
Olympic shot put champion Ryan Crouser looks in the sort of form to add the world crown to his title haul after easing into Sunday’s final with the 24-year-old American needing only one throw of 20.90 metres to qualify for Sunday’s final.
Crouser, who wolfs down 4000 calories a day, didn’t finish top of the qualifiers — those honours were taken by New Zealand’s Olympic bronze medalist Tom Walsh, who registered a mark of 22.14 metres.
“To get the qualifier on your first throw is exactly what you want, but to throw 22m is another thing all together,” said W walsh.
“It’s amazing what you can do when you just get out there and throw for throwing’s sake,” added the 25-year-old former builder.