The training partners quell an African storm on day 2 at the London Games.
We don’t know for sure, but it’s very likely that coach Alberto Salazar told training partners Mo Farah of Great Britain and Galen Rupp of the United States to treat the Olympic 10,000-meter final just like a practice session: work together for as long as possible, then let it all hang out on the last lap.
And that’s exactly what the dynamic duo did, helping one another weave through a crowded field before Farah blistered a final circuit of just over 53 seconds to capture gold in 27 minutes, 30.42 seconds. Rupp charged hard down the final straightaway to grab silver, passing Ethiopian Tariku Bekele with 75 meters remaining to finish half a second behind Farah in 27:30.90 and become the first American male to medal in this event since Billy Mills in 1964. Bekele held on for third in 27:31.42, just ahead of his older brother and defending Olympic gold medalist in the event, Kenenisa Bekele, who took fourth 27:32.44.
The race resembled a yo-yo, going out at a crawl as the opening mile was passed in 4:46. Eritrean Zersenay Tadese (6th, 27:33.51) then took over, stringing things out with a 61-second lap, then a 64, before slowing back down to 67-second pace. The 5K mark was passed in a pedestrian 14:05 as Rupp and Farah sat comfortably in a pack of ten, swapping leads with one another as if they were doing a tempo run on a track at their training base in Portland, Oregon.
After two more ill-fated surges the pack remained bunched before business really picked up over the final two laps. The crowd at Olympic Stadium erupted in applause when Farah finally moved to the front for the first time with 800 meters to go, and the race for the medal stand was on. Ethiopia’s Gebre Gebremariam (8th, 27:36) took the lead from Farah for a short while before the Brit grabbed it back at the bell. Charging down the back straight like a rocket released into orbit, Farah drew energy from his hometown crowd and began lengthening his lead heading into the final turn. By the time he hit the home straightaway victory was Farah’s to lose, as Tariku Bekele tried desperately to hold on for second behind him. It wasn’t to be, however, as Rupp found one final gear over the final 75 meters to pass Bekele and join his training partner of the last two years on the medal stand.