Mo Farah: A tactical genius but not quite an all-time great

Mo Farah- Olympic and World champion
Mo Farah- Olympic and World champion

The IAFF World Athletics Championship may now be over and during a week in which no new world records were witnessed on the track, both Usain Bolt and Mo Farah repeated their double individual gold medal performances from the London Olympics. Usain Bolt is the World’s fastest ever sprinter while Farah is also being described as an all-time great, but do his performances justify this accolade.

Farah has without question proved to be the master tactician in slowly run races over 5,000 and 10,000 metres. By winning over 1,500 metres in a time of 3.28 prior to the World Championships, he demonstrated that he possessed the speed to win a last lap sprint. His challengers during both races in Moscow allowed him to repeat his London tactics of striking the front early and holding the inside bend throughout the last lap.

Both races, as in the Olympics, were run in moderate winning times and there seemed to be a lack of the usual attrition tactics employed by athletes from the African nations in previous championships. Nobody appeared willing to test Farah and limit his ability to outsprint his closest rivals at the finish, or was it just that his fellow competitors lack the ability of their predecessors.

Mo Farah has perfected his finishing kick while living in America at the Alberto Salazar training camp but he has proved in the past that he can run fast distance times. 12.53 for 5,000 and 26.46 for 10,000 metres are clear indications of his capabilities but those times do not compare as favourably with those of Kenenisa Bekele who has clocked 12.37 and 26.17 for the same distances. Additionally, the personal bests of Haile Gebrselassie are 12.39 and 26.22, somewhat faster than those of Farah, and both Ethiopians have recorded far better winning times in Championships while also eclipsing world records during their careers.

The current Olympic and World Champion has already declared his aim of collecting medals rather than that of pursuing records but now that he has achieved his target of securing Olympic and World Championship doubles, he may be more eager to challenge the world best times.

While his performances in London and Moscow merit the respect they deserve at a time when the displays of other European athletes in the distance races leaves much to be desired, it would cement Farah’s position as a true legend of the sport if he were to beat a genuine world class field in a seriously quick time.

Perhaps that will be the next stage for Farah and athletics fans will await such races with much anticipation.

John Welsh

John Welsh

A freelance sports writer specialising in football, horse racing, cycling, athletics and betting. Also, the author of book [sc:bookbiolink], a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.
[email protected]
John Welsh

John Welsh

A freelance sports writer specialising in football, horse racing, cycling, athletics and betting. Also, the author of book [sc:bookbiolink], a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe. [email protected]

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