Farah on the brink of history

Farah on the brink of history
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Mo Farah is ready to defend his 5000m & 10,000m Olympic titles in Rio.

Such is the dominance of Great Britain’s Mo Farah that it is hard to believe the events of eight years ago and the second heat of the 5000m at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The race was won by Kenya’s Edwin Cheruiyot Soi in 13:46.41 and back in sixth, over three seconds later, and failing to make the final, was a Briton who two summers earlier had narrowly been beaten to European gold.

“It’s every athlete’s dream to go to an Olympics and do well,” recalled this Briton, a certain Mo Farah. “I remember clear as a whistle in Beijing getting knocked out and coming back home with my head down, knowing that I could have got to the final but I didn’t. That was quite hard.

“But I turned it around quite well. I came back four years later in London, my home town, and that was the most amazing thing ever.”

These words from Farah, during an interview with BT Sport, came last summer but are as pertinent this week as then as he looks to create Olympic Games history in Rio - because so much from 2008 remains significant as to where he is now.

No more was Farah prepared to be the nearly man, the athlete who was knocking on the door. He decided the time had arrived for him to be the first across that threshold.

When he chatted 12 months ago, it was just before the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, where Farah returned to exorcise his Olympic ghost by retaining his 5000m and 10,000m crowns.

Over distances which have created some of the greatest athletes in track and field, from Paavo Nurmi to Emil Zatopek to Haile Gebrselassie, only one man has retained the Olympic long-distance double - Finland's legendary Lasse Viren, who won both golds in Munich in 1972 and then did it again in Montreal four years later. Now Farah has the chance to create his own piece of history by joining him.

BBC One - Mo Farah: Race Of His Life

It has been a remarkable journey, which from that disappointment in 2008 took him to Turin a few months later where victory in the 3000m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships brought him his first major senior track title.

There, in a time of 7:40.17, came this crucial milestone, the first brick in the construction of the finest distance runner of his generation - and beyond.

Since that win in Italy, Farah, who was actually European Junior 5000m champion in Grosseto in 2001, has become almost unbeatable. The only time he has a lost a major final in over seven years was the world 10,000m in Daegu 2011, when he then came back later in the week to take the 5000m.

London was his crowning moment, winning the double in front of his own crowd, victories that created so much noise that even the photo-finish camera was distorted by the shaking of the Olympic Stadium.

If he triumphs in Rio, he will, incredibly, have achieved the double five times in a row, from the Olympics in London 2012, to two World Championships in Moscow 2013 & Beijing 2015 and the European Athletics Championships in Zurich 2014.

Can he be stopped from doing it again? Ethiopian Muktar Edris (5000m) and Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor (10,000m) will be trying and as Farah said: “People think ‘Mo is going to double up, he is going to win two golds’ but it isn’t going to be that easy.

“Everything is done; I don't think I could do any more. The whole season is always leading up to the Olympics – step by step by step; we're almost at the top now.”

And the top is a place he has become accustomed to being at.

WHEN TO WATCH THE MEN’S OLYMPIC 10,000m AND 5000m (All times CET)

10,000m

Final - Sunday 14 August (2.25am)

5000m

Heats - Wednesday 17 August (3.05pm)

Final - Sunday 21 August (2.30am)