London ready for Bolt and Farah swansongs
LONDON: It will be the end of an era for athletics when Usain Bolt races for the last time in the men’s 4x100 metres relay at the World Championships. There will be also a fair amount of emotion from the stands as Mo Farah also runs in his last track race - the 5,000 metres final.
Bolt is hoping to step away from the track having won his 20th global championship title, something he was denied last week when he finished third in the 100m behind American Justin Gatlin while Farah is aiming to complete an unprecedented World Championship tripledouble, having retained his 10,000m title on the first day - the home nation’s only medal.
While Farah only has limited say in how history will judge his distance running career, he is determined to succeed where Bolt failed in going out on a high.
The 34-year-old is at the legacy-glossing end of his time, with the 5,000m marking his final championship race on a track. He will take part in Diamond League races in Birmingham and Zurich, but as far as meaningful exercises, this final in London is it.
To look purely at the numbers, it has been a quite incredible career, with 10 successive global titles an adequate balance to criticisms that he never entered the world-record books with his times, but the medals are only ever going to be part of his narrative, at least until there are conclusive answers to the important questions about his coach, Alberto Salazar, who is under investigation by USADA.
For Farah, the onus is on ending as an indestructible force, rather than like Bolt, whose great career was concluded with a 100m defeat on the night the Brit won his 10,000m gold.
‘It is important to finish on a high,’ said Farah. ‘I want to leave on a high because that’s the perfect note. It is emotional but it has been long, a long career. You guys have seen me since I was a child, running around, going to the English Schools. To come this far has been incredible.
‘It ain’t easy. You have seen that with Usain Bolt. It would have been nice to see him win but it doesn’t just happen. No-one is going to give it to you, no matter who you are. It would be pretty amazing to bow out with another double gold but these guys are coming for me.’
The challenge will be completing 12 and a half laps less than a week on from the brutality of his 10,000m win, when a good portion of the field teamed up to physically and tactically beat him. There is a reasonable chance that he will face team tactics again in the shorter distance.
Farah said: ‘It isn’t going to be easy in the 5k. It’s going to be tough for me. There are a lot more guys. There’s a lot more decisions to be made in a shorter race.
‘In the 10k you’ve got 25 laps so you can relax a little bit if you’re further back to make that decision and work around. In the 5k, if you’re not there at a certain point, or if someone’s going to do something and you’re not there, that’s it - it’s gone.’ Agencies