2012 Olympic Men's 10,000: Mo Farah Gets It Done In Front Of The Home Crowd As Galen Rupp Gets Historic Silver
The Two Training Partners And Salazar-Coached Athletes Hold Off The Bekele Brothers To Go 1-2 As Farah Wins And Rupp Gets The Silver
August 4, 2012
America, the 48-year-old drought is over.
Before a sold-out 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, Britain's Mo Farah powered home to win the 10,000m, Britain's third track gold medal of the night and first long-distance gold in 104 years, and right behind him for the silver was training partner, American Galen Rupp, winning America's first men's flat long-distance track medal since 1964, when Bob Schul and Billy Mills won 5,000m and 10,000m golds. The bronze went to Ethiopia's Tariku Bekele, as he held off his brother, Kenenisa, who was unable to make Olympic history by winning his 3rd-straight Olympic 10,000 crown.
Farah and Rupp are both coached by Nike's Alberto Salazar, the former New York City and Boston Marathon Champion, and Saturday night was the ultimate vindication for his "Oregon Project," designed to bring an Olympic distance medal to US shores. Many may have been shocked by the medal by Rupp, but many pundits expected it, especially in a slow and tactical race. Afterwards, Alberto said he expected his charges to bring home two medals, he just was not sure of the color.
At the gun, the race looked like it might be honest, as Kenenisa Bekele took it out in a 30.4 first 200. However, Bekele was just trying to get out of traffic in the field of 29 as the pace slowed the next 20 and they went through the first lap in 64.87. The pace quickly got very slow as the field ran the next four laps at 73-74, passing the mile in 4:46 and 2k in 5:59. The start was a bit surprising, as none other than two-time Olympic champ Bekele was leading through the slow first 1,000m in 2:54. So much for Ethiopian team tactics to keep the pace honest and help Bekele defend his crown.
The slow pace would continue until after 2k, when world half marathon record holder Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea would take the lead and start pushing. He dropped a 61.9 and ran 8:06 for the next 3k to bring them through halfway in 14:05. With Tadese pushing the pace, things started to string out noticeably as they ran in a long line, but everyone was still in it. Rupp was sitting back in the middle of the pack and Farah was actually behind him.
After 5k, the pace would yo-yo back and forth a bit as it slowed, picked up, and then slowed again once more before everyone started to kick. With 2 miles to go, it was 2008 4th placer Moses Masai of Kenya leading, Tariku Bekele in second, and Rupp had moved up into 3rd with Farah sitting in the pack. Holding on towards the back were Americans Dathan Ritzehein and Matt Tegenkamp, as well as NCAA champion Cam Levins. Shortly before two miles to go, half marathon world champion and Kenyan 10,000m champion Wilson Kiprop dropped out and everyone's medal chances got a lot better. Afterwards, Kenyan journalists said Kiprop was nursing an injury heading into the final.
With five laps to go, Farah made a big move from 6th to 3rd and the crowd went wild and with one mile left, he finally took the lead over from Masai. Rupp, Tadese, and all three Ethiopians were right there and it was down to a pack of 12 with three laps left. However, the pace was slowing down again, as laps 19-23 were all run in the 66-67 range, leaving an extended sprint for the last 800.
Dathan Ritzenhein even regained contact, as this one was going to come down to the final sprint and no one had been sprinting better than Mo Farah and Galen Rupp this year. Things got started with a 62 penultimate lap. The last lap of the race was definitely the highlight of Olympic track actions so far. Eleven guys were in a pack at the bell, with some more strung out than others. By 250 to go, it was a five-man race, as Farah lead Kenyan Bedan Karoki, Tariku Bekele, Galen Rupp and Kenenisa Bekele in that order. Coming off the final bend, Farah led with Tariku Bekele behind him and Rupp back a step in third coming wide. Unlike last year, Farah had saved a little something for the final straight and he powered away to the win. Rupp flew down the homestretch, passed Tariku Bekele, and then fifteen meters from the finish looked right, looked left, and there was no one there. Silver was his .48 behind Farah, as Tariku Bekele held onto bronze ahead of his brother.
To win, Farah ran his last mile in roughly 4:08 and his last 400 in 53.48. The last 5,000 was 13.24.
This race was the first loss for Kenenisa Bekele in a 10,000m that he finished. To win, the two time Olympic champion needed a fast pace or an honest final 3,000m and he never got it. The slow three laps before things picked up with 800 to go played perfectly into the hands of Rupp and Farah, who have showed tremendous kicks this year (Rupp) and the last two years (Farah).
Alberto Confident In Two Medals
Worldwide, this will be known as Britain's night (3 Gold Medals - long jump, heptathlon, 10,000m) and Mo Farah's, but if it was anyone else's night it was coach Alberto Salazar's. Not only were Kenya and Ethiopia nearly shut out of the medals, but a Brit and an American got gold and silver, and they are training partners coached by the same man - Salazar.
The medal by Rupp may have surprised the casual American viewer. Galen Rupp put it well: "It's still a little weird seeing Great Britain and the US on the medal stand in a distance race," but maybe it is something we should get used to as it did not surprise Alberto. Alberto said, "I'll be honest. I thought we were going to medal and I thought we were going to get one-two. It's not something I was publicizing. I thought someone like Bekele might slip in. ... but I was sure we were going to get two medals. I believe Mo is the best distance runner in the world, and I know Galen is just a step behind him."
Mo and Galen have been the best kickers on the circuit this year, and their kicks left Alberto confident heading into the race, as the plan was simple - outkick everyone. "The race plan for Mo and Galen was we felt they could out sprint anybody in the race. We didn't care if it was a fast pace or a slow pace, they weren't going to try and win it until the last 400, maybe the last 200 meters. It was a very simple plan," he said.
Alberto, a three-time New York City Marathon Champ and one time Boston champ, said Farah's and Rupp's race was more satisfying than anything in his own running career. "The only feeling I've had better in my life were getting married and my kids births. Even after that, even my own successes in running, this feels so much better. ... These guys are like sons to me. Any parent wants better for their kids than for themselves," Alberto said.
Galen was obviously very pleased with the historic silver, but making sense of it was not easy. He said, "I still haven't wrapped my head around the race and what has happened. We came up with an audacious goal to put Americans on the podium in distance races that have always been dominated by Africans."
For Galen and Alberto, the silver medal was a work in progress that started in 2000 when Galen met Alberto as a freshman at Central Catholic High School in Portland. They have worked together ever since and dreamed of tonight with Alberto planning for it all along. Galen said, "What makes him so great is he is willing to adapt. He never leaves any stone unturned. He is meticulous in his plan. This has been a long buildup. ... I remember talking about this with him in high school. ... He said, 'This is going to take a long time. We're not going to take any shortcuts or do anything to go after short term rewards.' He takes a really long-term gradual approach and I think today he showed that pays off. I'm forever indebted to him. He's like a father figure to me. ... He's an unbelievable man."
Galen also had praise for his training partner Farah, saying Farah helped calm him during the race. Galen said, "I was starting to get antsy, when Tadese and some of the guys were surging. I was wondering whether to go, and he (Farah) tapped me on the shoulder and told me 'Just relax, mate. Everything is fine. They're going to come back. We've got to just play it cool right now and save everything for the finish.' That really calmed me down. ... I owe a lot to him. I've definitely been more the beneficiary of our relationship."
Rupp may be selling himself short with that last sentence, as Mo Farah has become a world beater since he started training with Galen. They are friends on and off the track, and as Galen said, "To be first and second with my training partner and one of my best friends, I couldn't be more thrilled."
Mo Farah Wins On A Historic Day For Britain
To the victor go the spoils, and this was Mo Farah's and Britain's night. The Londoner won gold before a packed house that cheered his every move all night. Farah felt something special when he just entered the stadium, saying, "I was really buzzed, like I had ten cups of coffeee. ... At that point I knew 'I have to do something.'"
Farah was the best distance runner on the planet coming in, but winning the Olympic Gold was far from guaranteed. Unlike last year at the Worlds, where Farah kicked too early, he saved something for the final 100m here and got the win before the raucous crowd.
Like Alberto, Mo said this was one of the best days of his life. "It's an amazing feeling and it hasn't quite sunk in. Today is the best feeling in my life. As an athlete this is what we train for. ... If it wasn't for the crowd and the support we got today I wouldn't have won that race," he said, talking of winning in London, where he grew up when he immigrated to the UK when he was 8.
Mo gradually responded to some of the surges up front trying to execute his game plan with Galen, which Mo summed up as, "We're always going to work together and when it comes to the last lap it's any man for himself."
When Mo was asked what message he wanted to send to children out there he said, "If you work hard at something you can achieve. I never liked running when I was really young. ... I used to love playing football."
The football career can wait, as Mo Farah is now the Olympic champion.
Tariku Bekele Gets Surprise Bronze
A Bekele was on the medal stand, but it Tariku Bekele, not three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa. Tariku was pleased to have finally won a medal at the Olympics, but wished the plan had been executed better, saying, "It didn't go as we planned it. We didn't want the race to be fast from the beginning. Our plan was to run up to the 5,000m as slow as possible and to make it fast in the second phase of the race. I am really disappointed as we (Ethiopians) didn't win gold medal. But I have to thank God for the bronze medal."
On Mo Farah's finish Tariku said, "We knew that he has a strong finishing ability, so there was nothing surprising there. He did what he normally does. It was because of the failure of our plan and tactic that we didn't win the race."
The Other Americans Finish Outside The Top 10:
The other two Americans, Ritzehein and Tegenkamp, finished 13th and 19th respectively. This was actually a decent race for Ritz, as he ran his second-fastest time of the year off a slow start. When the leaders started slowing down again towards the end, Ritz caught back up, but that was before Farah dropped a 1:55 for the last 800. Tegenkamp however, fell off a little after 2 miles to go and died pretty badly from there, only running 28:18.
Tegenkamp afterwards said he does not like coming to global championships and finishing back in the pack, but he may still try and make his 6th Worlds team next year in Moscow. He said to USATF, "To close the way they did, it was brutal, and not unexpected. I just thought I would respond better. That was not even a kick, that was a grind. That was a 5k race within a 10; a championship 5."
Ritz - Farah's And Galen's Third Training Partner
That brings us to Dathan Ritzenhein, who is also the third training partner of Galen Rupp and Mo Farah. Ritz returned to the track this year after not making the US Olympic Marathon team. Up next is the Chicago Marathon, but Ritz said next year he would like to run a full track season.
One must not forget that Ritz went sub-13:00 in 2009 (when Farah's best was 13:09), a full year before Mo Farah and three years before Galen Rupp. Ritz said his endurance is great, but he was playing catchup to Mo and Galen in the speed department. In the final, getting dropped and then clawing his way back to the pack was too much when the kicking started, as he said, "I tried to work my way up right until the end, but unfortunately I spent a good seven laps just off the pace and it hurt me in the end."
More Tidbits From Alberto:
We'll have more on this historic day for US distance running but a few more tidbits from Alberto.
Alberto said that Galen's and Mo's recent speed work had been great: "Both of them were faster than they've ever been before."
And while Mo Farah's move to the US last year was well-publicized, Alberto talked about an alliance with UK Athletics that spanned much longer, saying, "Over the last three years, I've forged a relationship, an alliance with Ian Stewart, UK endurance sports."
On final getting the elusive American medal, Alberto said, "I absolutely believe starting twenty years ago American and Western Europeans had a defeatist attitude. They thought the East Africans were so good and there was just an onslaught of East Africans and they got so much better and for whatever other reasons the Americans and the Brits went through a little bit of a lull. Not only the East Africans running faster than anyone ever before, but now the Americans and Brits and Europeans were running slower, so all of sudden you had this huge gap and there really shouldn't be that gap. Back thirty years ago there weren't as many East Africans, but there still a lot of very good ones and they weren't any better than the best Europeans and Americans. I don't believe all of a sudden they were genetically better. I think a lot was psychological. I think Americans and Europeans just gave up. Another big problem I believe was there's too many people who use the excuse of drugs, that anyone who runs fast is on drugs. The second you start thinking that as a coach or as an athlete you're basically saying you're not good enough to compete with other people unless you cheat. What I've always told our guys is 'Don't believe all that bull. Those are the losers that say that.' Rather than trying to change their own training to get better they use that as excuse and it's a defeatist attitude. A lot of the mind-set for us was 'We can beat these guys. We've just got to train smart.'"
Quick Take (QT) #1: It's amazing that we're talking about how this was a slow race because it was won in 'only' 27:30.42 as Rupp's 27:30.90 would still put him just off the US top 10 All Time list, as 10th is Tegenkamp at 27:28.22.
QT #2: This was Karoki's first major championship and it showed. He finished 5th, only half a second away from a medal, but he ran so much of the last miles out in the outside lanes, trying to make moves and surges around people that he definitely hurt himself at the end. A smarter race tactically could have gotten him a medal.
QT #3: Cam Levins running with the lead pack and finishing just out of the top 10 generated some excitement on the boards. Great performance for his first major championship.
Results and splits that we typed up as the race was going on.
10,000 Metres - M Final - 04 August 2012 - 21:15
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