Farah trails in Edinburgh - as Murray tumbles to Djokovic
A quiz question: prior to this weekend who was the last British athlete to beat Sir Mo Farah?
If you are racking your brains for a fellow distance runner you can spare yourself the trouble.
Triumphing on a rain-drenched University of Bath track more than four years ago, the unlikely conqueror was Anthony Joshua, then Olympic superheavyweight gold medallist and now world IBF heavyweight champion, who left Farah for dead over 100m in a BBC post-London 2012 resurrection of Superstars.
There were no boxers on the hills of Holyrood Park yesterday, but home favourite Callum Hawkins was on hand to deliver the knockout blow to a severely undercooked Farah over 8km at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country.
In all honesty, Farah never stood a chance. The four-time Olympic track champion had admitted beforehand that training was “not where I want it to be” after basking in the glory of his Rio success last summer and he was comfortably beaten in the Scottish capital.
Farah may have felt a sense of déjà vu, running the last cross country race of his career as he entered the home straight in the wake of America’s Garett Heath. Exactly a year ago the duo had tussled it out on the same stage with Heath pipping his more illustrious rival to take the overall victory.
This time around neither of them was able to live with the pace at the front as Farah traipsed in way down the field in seventh place, more than 45 seconds behind shock American winner Leonard Korir.
“I’m disappointed but you have to be honest with yourself – during the last couple of weeks training hasn’t gone as well,” said Farah, who was knighted in the New Year Honours list last week.
“I got a little bit ill. I’m not making excuses, but it just hasn’t gone as smoothly as I wanted and it showed today.
“I could have done the easy thing and stayed at home, but I didn’t want to pull out. I wanted to show up and see what I could do.
“Seventh is not where I want to be, but at least I can go back now and focus and get it right. Having the experience I have, I should be able to get it right.”
While Farah floundered, his British team-mate Hawkins was edged out of victory by the narrowest of margins after a thrilling nip-and-tuck battle with Korir.
Hawkins, who finished ninth in the Rio Olympic marathon last summer, dictated the race from outset, dropping his opponents one by one until Korir was the only man left on his heel.
He looked to have dropped the Kenya-born athlete when he kicked for home in the final 500 metres, but Hawkins could not quite hold on – Korir taking victory in 24min 3sec, with the Scot just one second behind. Aras Kaya, who claimed the European Cross Country title last month, finished third.
“It’s disappointing to get beaten but I gave it my all,” said Hawkins, 24. On claiming the prized scalp of Farah, he added: “I think if he has an off-day, like here, there are a few of us now who can take him.
“You see what he’s done for British athletics to spur people like myself, Andy Vernon and Andy Butchart on. The sport is moving in the right way, back to where it was.”
Under the weather: Sir Mo Farah admitted that his training had not gone to plan, especially after overcoming a recent illness