Mo Farah had not competed much in 2016. While Farah, who won gold in both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races at the London Olympics, as well as gold in both races at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, the Brit had not run competitively all that much in 2016. And his results have been up and down as well.
But on July 23rd, returning to the stadium he won double Olympic glory, Farah restored faith in his fans, and gave hope to the possibility of being the first person since legendary Finn, Lasse Virén, to accomplish the double-double: winning gold in the 5K an 10K in two consecutive Olympics. At the London Anniversary Games, Farah won the 5,000-meter race convincingly, finishing well ahead with his trademark kick. His time of 12 minutes 59.29 seconds was his best since a tune-up to the London Games in June, 2012. In other words, his 33-year-old legs are feeling young.
“This is my best ever form heading into a major championships,” he is quoted as saying in The Mirror. “I am in good shape and it’s great to win before Rio. I just have to keep my feet on the ground as it’s harder to defend an Olympics than win it first time because people have had four years to work out how to beat you.”
Four-time Olympic gold medalist, Michael Johnson, knows something about the challenges of repeating as champion, and so he knows Farah has to be wary of the competition. “It gets more challenging for Farah now he’s older. He’s dominated but the Kenyans are trying to figure out how to beat him. They are coming up with a plan and hoping to catch him on an off-day. It’ll be fun because it’ll make it even more competitive.”
The Kenyans agree. Farah’s 10,000-meter rival from Kenya, Bedan Karoki has said, “he has always beaten us in the last lap, but we have worked on that and hope to turn the tables against him this time in Rio. We are very good in lapping — indeed much better than him — but he waits until it matters most, and that is what we have worked on this time.”
Farah agrees, saying as much after his victory in the London Anniversary Games.
But while there is little evidence to show in 2016 that Farah has what it takes to win the 10K in Rio, at the very least, he is the clear favorite for the 5,000-meter race in Rio.