The double-Olympic gold medalist says it’s nice to come back home.
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
LONDON — “Mo Mania” continued here at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as Great Britain’s double Olympic champion Mo Farah ran away with the 3000m title in front of a sold-out crowd of 65,000 at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games IAAF Diamond League Meeting on Saturday. Taking the lead with 500 meters remaining, a smiling Farah cruised to earn his third win in the Olympic Stadium, adding to the Olympic 10,000m and 5000m victories he achieved last year.
“It was great to come back to this track, I’ve got great memories from 2012,” said Farah, holding a Union Jack. “It was real nice to come back here one more time and win the race.”
Per usual, Farah did not touch the lead in the opening laps, leaving that to the designated pace setter Ismael Kombich, Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist Tariku Bekele, and Kenyan Gideon Gathimba. Though he wasn’t in front, Farah’s presence was clearly known, tucked in behind like an animal waiting to pounce.
Remaining calm and content through the opening kilometer (2:38.50), the 30-year-old shared a few words about the pace with fellow Oregon Project teammate Dathan Ritzenhein.
“He wanted to go slow and I wanted to go fast, and he said don’t pass him [the pacemaker],” said Ritzenhein, describing the exchange. “Mo said ‘don’t,’ but I don’t know why I didn’t cause it was too slow. He wanted an easy race and I wanted an honest race, as I’m getting ready for the 10,000m and marathon so it’s got to be faster than that for me.”
The pace disagreement passed when Bekele subsequently took over the lead, injecting a small surge. Farah followed suit without a moment’s hesitation, as Ritzenhein did the same a step beside his teammate.
Shortly after the 2,000-meter mark, Ritzenhein made the decisive move to take over for Bekele. Still calm, Farah followed into second, with Bekele falling back to third. Looking like a man on a mission, Ritzenhein kept pumping his arms in an effort to chip away at Farah’s reserves.
RELATED: Farah To Run 2014 London Marathon
When asked if this move was to help Farah achieve Dave Moorcroft’s 3000m record of 7:32.79, Ritzenhein said no; rather, he was just trying to quicken the pace and make it a more honest effort. Farah would later add that he was not aiming for the record whatsoever.
Farah moved around the American with 500 meters to go, a wide smile across his face. Knowing he had the win in his pocket, Farah chose to enjoy the moment in front of his home fans.
“It was important to win this race on this track,” said Farah. “It’s great to be back, it was a good race and the crowds were great. There’s so many people here to support us.”
Farah would cross the line all by himself in 7:36.85, more than five seconds up on surprise second-place finisher, recent North Carolina State graduate Ryan Hill. In the final lap, Hill moved from fourth to second, passing the likes of Ritzenhein and Bekele.
“I made a move with 700m to go to try and get up with the Farah group. By the time I got there he wasn’t there anymore,” said Hill. “I moved up well the whole race.”
When asked his thoughts on beating one of the Bekele Brothers, something no one foresaw, Hill joked around.
“It’s the other Bekele, only the bronze medalist,” he said wryly with a smile.
Rounding out the top three was Andrew Bumbalough, followed by Bekele and Ritzenhein. Ritzenhein was OK with his performance.
“It’s been really hard training, so this means I’m in a good place,” he said.
Well back in the 14th and final position was Canadian Cam Levins, also an Oregon Project team member. When the stadium had cleared close to an hour after the final race, the entire Oregon Project team could be seen doing a workout around the track.
Choge Upsets Souleiman In Mile
In the Emsley Carr Mile, Kenya’s Augustine Kiprono Choge upset IAAF Diamond League 1500m points leader Ayanleh Souleiman, 3:50.01 to 3:50.07. Choge’s time, a new personal best, ranks fourth in the world this year.
After a fast, 54.76-second opening 400m run by pacer Bram Som of the Netherlands, the 20-man field had strung out to single file, with Souleiman and Choge taking their places behind the designated rabbits. Roughly a second back sat American Galen Rupp, the 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist.
RELATED: The Mile, America’s Classic Distance
The pace had dramatically slowed down by the halfway point of the race — hit in 1:53.2 — which meant the African duo at the front could restore their energy in preparation for the final charge home. Joining them for a period were Kenyans Collins Cheboi and Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, while Rupp stayed behind holding strong around fifth.
At the bell, Choge and Souleiman held a step on the field, and it appeared the two would duel all the way to the finish. Choge tried to drop the native of Djibouti to no avail, as the 20-year-old responded promptly. Just as it appeared Souleiman may pull off the pass, Choge closed the door and responded, taking the win by .06 seconds. Souleiman wound up second in a national record of 3:50.07.
With the win, Choge etched his name in the pages of the Emsley Carr Trophy, a red leather-bound book in its second volume. By his side was Lord Sebastian Coe, a two-time winner of the historic, 60-year-old race.
“It was one of the greatest races won and one of the best stories and to run in the Olympic Stadium itself, I’m so thrilled,” Choge said. “The crowd was so fantastic, I wish all the races could be like this. The stadium was just so lively.”
Rupp overcame a period of being boxed in to finish fifth in a personal best of 3:52.11. Fellow Oregon Project athlete Matthew Centrowitz was off the pace from the start, winding up 16th in 3:58.75. Both athletes declined to speak to the written media in the mixed zone after the race.
One Oregon athlete who did speak was Jordan McNamara, who finished seventh in a personal best of 3:52.42. McNamara’s performance caps off a very good month of July, which saw the 26-year-old set personal bests at 1500m and the mile, and earn a hard fought win at the KBC-Nacht Meeting in Belgium.
“I have been doing workouts indicative of this kind of fitness all spring, but I just couldn’t get my legs right on race day,” said McNamara. “I’m so thankful to have my hard work show now.”