It must be Sir Mo – he has proved he is Bri­tain’s great­est ever ath­lete

Denise Lewis Dis­tance run­ner is in a class of his own, but th­ese Games show the fu­ture of Bri­tish ath­let­ics is bright

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - NEWS -

Where else to start when look­ing back at what the Bri­tish ath­letes achieved in the Olympics than with Mo Farah? If he does not re­ceive a knight­hood now, I will be flab­ber­gasted.

It is hard to ex­press just how amaz­ing his two gold medals were. If you com­pare what he achieved here, by com­plet­ing the “dou­ble­dou­ble” of back-to-back 5,000 and 10,000 me­tre ti­tles, to what any other Bri­ton has man­aged in any other sport, I think you have to say that it is at least on a par.

I don’t know if he re­ally gets the recog­ni­tion he de­serves. There is lit­tle more he can do to prove that he is the great­est long-dis­tance run­ner Bri­tain has ever pro­duced.

It is prob­a­bly hard for the lay per­son to com­pre­hend just how much work he has to put in and the kind of mileage he has to clock up to achieve the per­for­mances he pro­duces at ma­jor cham­pi­onships.

He changed his train­ing base to Amer­ica and the long, in­tense prepa­ra­tion camps that he em­barks upon ev­ery year in pur­suit of ex­cel­lence is some­thing to be re­spected and ad­mired.

The way he stamps his au­thor­ity on his races demon­strates the bril­liance of his tac­ti­cal aware­ness and con­firms that he has the best rac­ing brain of any run­ner in the world. He al­ways seems to put it to­gether when it mat­ters and what­ever his ri­vals try, they can­not throw him off his race plan.

We saw a clas­sic ex­am­ple of that in the 5,000 m fi­nal in the early hours of yes­ter­day (Bri­tish time). When the pace started to wind up with two laps to go, Mo re­fused to re­lin­quish his in­side po­si­tion and, when he came un­der at­tack, he put in a surge and ended with the gold medal, like he al­ways does.

We have seen him do that so many times since 2012 that we go into ev­ery race that he con­tests con­fi­dent that he will pull it off – es­pe­cially with that dev­as­tat­ing sprint fin­ish he has; an elec­tri­fy­ing turn of pace that is just stag­ger­ing.

Al­though Mo was the only Bri­tish ath­lete to win gold here in Rio, I am ac­tu­ally quite pleased with the team’s per­for­mance. They hit their tar­get of seven medals and had some very close fourth places. I know those do not equate to medals but, look­ing at Adam Gemili and Cindy Ofili in par­tic­u­lar, there are plenty of young ath­letes on the rise.

So­phie Hitchon win­ning bronze in the ham­mer was an out­stand­ing per­for­mance af­ter the agony of fin­ish­ing fourth at the World Cham­pi­onships last year. Many of the girls who throw against her are much older and more ex­pe­ri­enced, so to throw a na­tional record on her last ef­fort was re­ally fan­tas­tic.

I en­joyed watch­ing An­drew Butchart, who came sixth in the 5,000m. I gather from the dis­tance ex­perts that he has a good rac­ing brain and it will be nice to see him de­velop over the next few years.

See­ing the 4 x 100m girls stand on the podium to re­ceive their bronze medals was amaz­ing, be­cause it was the first time any of them have com­peted at an Olympics. For Daryll Neita, at 19, to be bring­ing the ba­ton home along­side Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is out­stand­ing. De­siree Henry only just missed her per­sonal best in the 100m and Dina Asher-Smith matched her per­for­mance from the World Cham­pi­onships last year to fin­ish fifth in the 200m. I think Dina, in par­tic­u­lar, will take an­other big leap for­ward in the next cou­ple of years.

One of my favourite mo­ments of the cham­pi­onships was ac­tu­ally Kata­rina John­son-Thomp­son clear­ing a na­tional record of 1.98m in the hep­tathlon high jump. Ob­vi­ously things did not work out the way she had hoped over­all in the hep­tathlon, but that height would have won her a gold medal in the in­di­vid­ual high jump had she been en­tered – not that she will be too hung up about that. You kind of just ac­cept it as it is. Hope­fully, she can take the con­fi­dence from her jump and use it in the fu­ture as men­tal food to help her per­form bet­ter. I am sure, some­where along the line, she will un­lock her po­ten­tial.

It would also be re­miss not to men­tion Chris­tine Ohu­ruogu, whose bronze here means she has won medals in three con­sec­u­tive Olympics. She is an­other who is of­ten over­looked.

You can­not deny her pedi­gree, but I think peo­ple for­get just how close she came at Lon­don 2012 to re­tain­ing the 400m ti­tle that she won in Bei­jing. She has been an ex­tra­or­di­nary ser­vant to Bri­tish ath­let­ics over the years, qui­etly go­ing about her busi­ness, and she schools the girls in that 4 x 400m team. They squeeze ev­ery last ounce out of them­selves for the greater good of that re­lay team. To see her fin­ish her Olympic ca­reer with a bronze medal was great and I hope her ser­vices are re­tained in the sport be­cause she is the type of char­ac­ter who is in­valu­able.

Of­ten af­ter a ma­jor cham­pi­onship, that you walk away won­der­ing what the fu­ture holds for Bri­tish ath­let­ics. Peo­ple ask about the depth and qual­ity in the team af­ter you take out such stars as Mo, Jes­sica En­nis-Hill and Greg Ruther­ford. But I think the past week or so has shown that there are strong prospects across the board. The World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don next sum­mer will be ex­tremely im­por­tant be­cause, with home ad­van­tage, I would hope that the per­for­mances of the Bri­tish team will rise again.

I love the at­ti­tude of the new breed of Bri­tish ath­letes. They have a lot of con­fi­dence and they are not happy with set­tling for any­thing less than to aim for the very top. I hope that in the next few years we will see the fruits of their labour.

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