Mo Farah brushes off bad run and says he can defend Olympic 10,000m title2 min read
In elite sport there is often a fine line between defiance and delusion, and Mo Farah appeared to be skirting dangerously close to the latter in the aftermath of one of the worst runs of his career on Saturday night.
Speaking after running 22 seconds outside the qualifying time for the Olympics, and finishing eighth in a race that doubled as the UK trials, the 38-year-old insisted he was still capable of defending his 10,000m title in Tokyo – if he recovered from what he said was a “little niggle” in his left ankle.
“This will not be the end,” he said. “No, no, no, no. There’s a lot of work to be done and I just have to get this thing sorted. It won’t take me long in terms of my fitness. I have to make sure I’m right.” When asked whether he believed he could still win at the Olympics, which starts in six weeks’ time, Farah replied: “Yeah, I believe so. It will take courage and balls to be able to go out there and mix it with the guys.”
Crucially, he also admitted: “At the same time, if it is in a situation like now, then there’s no chance. But I believe if I get my head down in the next three or four weeks, knuckle down, get this little niggle out the way and then hopefully we should be all right.”
Farah still has three weeks to run the 27:28.00 time needed to qualify for Tokyo and one option could be to try again in the Golden Spike meeting at Leiden next weekend. However, that may be too soon. Another idea could be to try to qualify over 5,000m instead at the British Athletics Championships at the end of the month. Either way, there is a growing sense that time – as well as his body – is against him.
“It will be painful to miss out if it happens,” said Farah. “But at the same time I don’t want to just go and make a team. I want to go out there and challenge Joshua Cheptegei and the other guys. It will take sub-27 minutes to win. Can I be in that form? I believe I can, but the most important thing is getting this thing sorted.”
There were some suggestions on social media that age has finally caught up with him. Or that, without the help of his former coach Alberto Salazar, who guided him to four Olympic gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016, he is no longer the same force on the track. Perhaps. But sources at UK Athletics and his management company insist Farah was in great shape when training last month in Flagstaff, Arizona.
But while the ankle niggle does not appear serious it was telling that Farah nodded when asked whether he faced a race against time to defend his Olympic title. “Yeah,” he added ruefully. “Is it Mo time or real time?”