Farah’s golden message to the next generation after London glory

Mo Farah at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
European Athletics

Mo Farah at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

It was close to midnight in the London Stadium and Sir Mo Farah could talk no more but it was nothing to do with exhaustion.

This time he had to cut short his press conference to have treatment on the cuts on his legs from the numerous spikes that had clipped him during a race, almost two hours earlier, that had secured his place in athletics legend.

Not that Farah, one of Europe’s greatest-ever distance runners and arguably Great Britain’s greatest-ever athlete, had anything to prove.

When you are a man with 16 major titles to your name, you can dine out on that forever.

But now Farah has something even finer to chat after win number 17 if someone asks him ‘What was your best performance?’

In a thrilling, nail-biting, utterly spell-binding 10,000m final on the opening night of the IAAF World Championships London 2017, Farah held off the challenge of his multitude of East African rivals in astonishing style to win gold in a world-leading time of 26:49.51.

As much as they tried, they could not break him, with Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei second in a personal best of 26:49.94 and Kenya’s Paul Tanui third in 26:50.60.

Farah pushed hard with two laps to go and then took over decisively with just under 400 metres to go, he was tripped a couple of times on the final lap, but despite the slight stumbles he had enough sprint left in him to soar away for a magnificent victory.

Mo Farah at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
Mo Farah at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

It brought him his 10th global gold, and in all those previous triumphs, never had he been under such a threat.

But during these 26 or so minutes, Farah, twice the European Athlete of the Year, showed why the millions watching across the world – particularly those youngsters who dream of success – can learn so much from a man who has now won the world crown over 25 laps of the track three times in a row.

“Anything is possible,” he said afterwards. “If you train hard, if you work hard at it. Anything is possible in life, you have to see life in a positive way. All the kids out there, if you want to be like me, it is possible, stick at it. There will be hurdles and obstacles in the way, but you will get there.

“If you believe in that, it can happen.”

It was quite a message from a 34-year-old who cannot be anything other than a role model for the future generations, who might just have been inspired from the brilliance they saw on Friday night and who is not quite yet finished on the track.

A week today, he will be looking to make it double gold again in the final of the 5000m before bowing out from championships to become a road runner.

But these words about anything being possible is a mantra he has carried with him throughout a career where his success on the track goes back 16 years.

Mo Farah at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
Mo Farah at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

It is fitting that this summer’s European Athletics U20 Championships were held in Grosseto because, by coincidence, when they were last staged in the same Italian city in 2001, the 5000m was won by a teenager who has now become a global icon across sport, let alone just athletics.

Farah triumphed that day in 14:09.91. He believed anything was possible then and despite a series of track silvers and minor setbacks in the seasons that followed, he never gave up on his dream.

Even when he was beaten on the line by Spain’s Jesus España in the 5000m final at the 2006 European Championships in Gothenburg, Farah vowed he would be back and four years later in Barcelona, the sport saw what he meant.

The 2010 European Athletics Championships really were the beginning of what Farah has become now: a man who thrives on dominating his races.

Barcelona was his first 5000-10,000m double. He now has the Olympic double-double to go with it, and is aiming now for a world championships treble-double.

The determination he showed throughout all those successes was flowing throughout him again on Friday night.

“I got a few cuts but I just had to be strong,” said Farah. “I didn’t want to go down, I had to fight but it happens in races. I have such a long stride and I don’t blame anyone.

“It was one of the toughest races of my life. The guys really gave it to me. It was all about ‘how do you beat Mo’.

You had the Kenyans, the Ethiopians, the Ugandans all working as a team against me. Fair play to them, they worked it hard, but that was my greatest performance.”