British athletes win the men’s and women’s 10K titles at the meet.
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
ZURICH, Switzerland — It was another golden night for British endurance athletes at the 21st European Championships here, as Mo Farah clinched his second European 10,000m title with a fast finish off of a slow pace. Farah’s victory came 24 hours after 40-year-old Jo Pavey won the women’s 10,000m crown to make Great Britain the first country ever to win both the men’s and women’s 10K titles at the same edition of these championships since the women’s 10K was added to the program in 1986.
Farah, 31, ran a modest 28:08.11, but he ran his final 400m in a very convincing 54.41 seconds, too fast for any of his rivals to cover.
“It’s alright. It’s good enough, obviously, to win,” Farah said of his final lap. “But at the same time it would have been nice to get it quicker, but that’s where it was. Sometimes it’s important to just win the race then think about times.”
Farah, who will also contest the 5000m on Sunday, moved immediately to the back of the field from the starter’s gun, making every effort to conserve energy. Although there was a mild early breakaway by Turkey’s Polat Kemboi Arikan, the defending champion, the pace was leisurely, just 8:27 through 3000m and 14:09.54 at the halfway point. Farah had hoped it would be even slower.
“It would have been nice to have it a little bit slower, but the guys, you know, went to the front and pushed the pace,” Farah explained. “That’s what racing’s about; you can’t choose. A few times I tried to cut to the front and slow down, but it didn’t work.”
“The guys” were Turkey’s Arikan and his teammate Ali Kaya, the former Kenyan Stanley Kiprotich Mukche. The Turkish duo stayed on the lead through 7,200 meters when Farah finally went to the front. The pace dropped slightly to the 65-second range, but that wasn’t fast enough to whittle the pack any further. Six men stayed in contention for medals: Farah, Arikan, Kaya, Britain’s Andy Vernon, Belgium’s Bashir Abdi and Italy’s Daniele Meucci. Farah liked the way the race was shaping up.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure I had something left at the end.”
About 8,600 meters into the race, Farah launched the first part of his attack. He ran the penultimate lap in about 63 seconds, but saved his true kick for the final 150 meters when he, Vernon and Kaya were still in contention for the win.
“I changed gear again with 50 meters to go,” Farah continued. “You know, if I had to continue, I would.”
Seeing he had the race won, Farah celebrated over the last few meters, pumping his fists. But behind him, a surprising battle was playing out for second. Vernon tried to get by Kaya on the inside, but finding his path blocked, he stutter-stepped and then made one more push for the line.
“At the time of the stuttering, I was just trying to win the silver medal,” Vernon told reporters. “I tried to dive down inside, and the gap just closed all of a sudden. There was no way of getting through without pushing. I’m not going to do that. So, I just had to put the brakes on and get around, and start the sprint again.”
Vernon’s second effort was just good enough to get past Kaya. He beat the Turk by only .06 of a second, 28:08.66 to 28:08.72.
“I bench more; I’ve got a bigger chest. I think that’s what it came down to,” Vernon quipped.
Farah’s victory was especially sweet given that he had to be hospitalized for four days after collapsing in a bathroom after a long run. He struck his head when he fell, showing reporters that he still had four stitches in his left ear. He decided not to make the incident public because he didn’t want his rivals to think he wasn’t going to be at his best.
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“Only my coach and my family knew what was going on,” Farah revealed. “I’m not going to let my opposition know what’s going on in my life. What was it going to do for me for my career? It’s not going to do anything, really. It’s just going to make them train more harder.”
Like Farah, both Vernon and Kaya will be racing the 5000m.