London ready for Bolt and Farah swan­songs

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

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