Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) further etched his name into the history books as he became the greatest British track and field athlete of all time, adding 5,000m gold to the 10,000m he won last Saturday night to complete the ‘double-double’.
And it was one of two great medal–winning performances on the final evening of track and field programme at the Rio Olympic Games with tomorrow morning’s marathon the final event to take place.
It all started on ‘Super Saturday’ at London 2012, with Farah winning his first Olympic title over 10,000m. Fast forward four years and he’s won 5,000m and 10,000m gold at consecutive Olympic Games, with Lasse Viren the only other athlete to have achieved such a feat.
Forced to surge at the bell to hold off Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia, Farah dictated the pace, kicking away from Kevin Chelimo down the home straight to cross the line arms aloft.
Of his fourth Olympic title Farah said:
“It means so much to me I can’t believe I did it. I dreamed of being Olympic champion once, when I was young watching Haile (Gebrselassie) and (Paul) Tergat in Sydney and then I did it in London and that was incredible. And then four years later to do it again – there’s no words to really describe it.
“The crowd were good to me – mentally I had to be on top of my game – the guys were out there to get me so I just had to be alert. I controlled it and controlled it – I wasn’t going to let anyone past me and then at the end just use my speed.”
Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton) also ran a phenomenal race on his Olympic debut, crossing the line seventh before being upgraded to six due to a disqualification.
Running faster than he’s ever run before the Scot wasn’t fazed, staying in a good position in the leading group throughout. In the end he was rewarded for his efforts with a 13.08.61 personal best making him the third fastest Briton of all-time.
“I can’t really ask for much more than that in my first major final. The race went off a lot faster than I thought it would, so I had to get on it and roll with it. Training has gone really well. I’ve not really had a bad race or session, so I’ll take that as a good year.
“Mo is a huge inspiration. I spoke to him before the race – we got on the bus together, sat next to each other and had a little chat. He’s such a relaxed person that you feed off it and it makes you more relaxed. I never doubted that he would win. Nobody can beat him.
“My placing was more important than my personal best. I’ve never had to recover from a race before. This is my first time doing a heat and then a final. My legs have been in bits and I had a blister, which is really sore. To recover like I did, I’m so pleased. I guess it’s just good experience for the next championships that I go to.”
There was also a bronze medal for the women’s 4x400m relay team on the final night of track and field at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
400m hurdles finalist Eilidh Doyle (Malcolm Arnold) came into the team on her usual lead off leg, clocking a 52.4 split to put the team in the mix for the medals. Anyika Onuora (Rana Reider) got out hard on the second leg to take up third at the break, handing over in fifth, but still right in the mix.
A phenomenal third leg by Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon) pulled the team back up to third though, giving Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) a small cushion as she took off on the anchor leg.
Using all of her experience, the former Olympic champion saved something for the final 100m, to pull away from her rivals and cross the line in third in 3.25.88, much to the delight of her teammates.
Of the team’s performance Christine Ohuruogu said:
“It wasn’t about me, I just wanted a team effort. After the heats we knew a medal was up for grabs. It’s all well and good saying that but we actually had to come out and deliver and we really needed a strong performance from all the girls.
“They set me up in a good position and I just rolled with what they gave me. You always hope for more medals. I worked so hard for Rio – probably a bit too hard, overcooking things a little bit. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps after not making the [400m] final, so I had to lift myself up.
“I’m really proud of the team. For all of us it’s really nice to go home with something. The final bend is the danger zone because that’s where people calculate what they’ve got left for the finish straight. So I thought that I wasn’t going to wait and see who charged, I was just going to go. I felt like the devil himself was after me, that’s how scared I was!”
Emily Diamond added: “I’m on cloud nine. It has been a whirlwind. I’m a bit speechless and have been in tears. My mum’s been in tears. It’s just amazing. We came into this knowing we had a shot at bronze. The Americans and Jamaicans are just so far ahead, but we knew bronze was up for grabs.
“Christine gave us a pep talk in the call room telling us to keep composed and not to panic if things aren’t going to plan in the race. And we did that. To come away with a bronze medal is the icing on the cake for the season.”
That took Team GB’s athletics medal total to seven, the most the team have won since 1988.
Earlier, Lynsey Sharp (Reider) produced a 1.57.69 personal best to finish sixth in an incredibly fast women’s 800m final. Despite only going through the bell in 57 seconds, the pace was electric over the final 400m with no one able to stop Caster Semenya easing away to win gold.
Sharp was seventh coming off the bend such was the pace, but she dug deep down the home straight to move up to sixth and improve the time that puts her third on the UK all-time list.
“It was a great race to be part of. I knew it was going to be very competitive and to run my fastest ever time in an Olympic final, I have to be happy with that, but I’m a little bit frustrated because I know that I can go faster than that.
“It wasn’t necessarily about times but being competitive and I feel like I did myself justice today. It is difficult to analyse so soon after the race. I sat off the pace because I knew that my best chance was to come through at the end and these girls have a strong finish as well.
“The thing that I’m most happy about this week is to get through the rounds clean. It was a disappointment last year and it’s actually harder to make the final than to run in the final. I am just very happy to make the final and do myself justice.”
In a typical championship 1500m final, Matt Centrowitz held off all of the favourites to take the Olympic title in 3.50.00, with Briton Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) finishing twelfth in 3.51.73.
You could throw a blanket over the whole field throughout, especially over the first couple of laps, the field passing 800m in a leisurely 2.16. In the end if came down to a 400m burn-up, with American Centrowitz controlling things from the front, a 50.62 last lap keeping the field at bay.
Grice gave himself a chance, passing the bell in seventh, but despite a 1.45 800m personal best this season he didn’t quite have the speed to contend for a medal in his first Olympic final.
“I’m very happy to be here but was hoping to perform a bit better than that. It was very pushy and ‘shovey’ as always and I think I kind of panicked a bit and was surging, but my legs just didn’t have it today. I think they’re pretty tired from the qualification rounds.
“But still, I can hold my head high because apart from the Spanish guy I was the only European in that race. I am now kind of hungry for more because these kind of races I'm normally quite good at, but the last bit I didn’t quite have it in my legs today.
“The plan was to stay on the rail again to run the shortest line and stay out of trouble but I felt that I needed to be far out there because it was beyond slow and any gaps that happened would stay that way and we can all run a 52 second last lap. So, it was about who could run the shortest line and not be pushing and shoving.
“I thought it would be a little quicker especially as there were a few Kenyans and Moroccans in there. I’d have liked it to be quicker, but you need to turn up and be prepared for any kind of race and I will come back stronger because of this.”
Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake) finished in tenth place in the women’s high jump thanks to a 1.93m clearance on her Olympic debut. World Junior Champion Lake opened her account with a first time clearance at 1.88m, before going clear at 1.93m with her final attempt, just as she did at 1.94m in qualifying.
In the end though 1.97m, which is 3cm higher than she’s ever jumped before, was one step too far, but the 19 year old can be extremely pleased with her efforts.
“It’s bittersweet I think. It’s weird to think that I’m top ten in the world and I’m disappointed with it. 1.97m is a height that’s within me and I’m quite annoyed about that. But I have to take a step back and think that I’m only 19 and in an Olympic final - I can’t complain.
“I seem to like third attempts at the moment. I think it’s something that I need to brush up on. I’m not really sure why it takes me until the third attempt; I guess it gets me a little more in the zone. I need to get in that zone in my first attempt and if I can do that I can get in top eight or top five.”