August 13, 2013
Mo Farah can still kick.
In just his second track race of 2014, Mo Farah used a 54.4-second last lap to win the 10,000 meters at the European Championships on Tuesday in Zurich in 28:08.11. Countryman Andy Vernon of Great Britain was second in 28:08.66, just edging Turkey’s Ali Kaya for silver.
The race began slowly and played right into Farah’s hands as he was able to go to the lead in the final mile and control the pace until taking off with 400 to go. It was still close on the final turn as Kaya sat just off Farah’s shoulder with Vernon passing defending champion Polat Kemboi Arikan to move into third. But Farah finally gained separation in the home stretch and held on for his fourth career European outdoor title. Vernon was able to move up on the outside and edge Kaya for second to win his first European medal and make it a night to remember for the British.
Video of the final lap below.
1. Mohamed Farah (Britain) 28:08.11
2. Andy Vernon (Britain) 28:08.66
3. Ali Kaya (Turkey) 28:08.72
4. Polat Kemboi Arikan (Turkey) 28:11.11
5. Bashir Abdi (Belgium) 28:13.61
6. Daniele Meucci (Italy) 28:19.79
7. Bouabdellah Tahri (France) 28:25.03
8. Stefano La Rosa (Italy) 28:49.99
9. Sondre Nordstad Moen (Norway) 28:50.53
10. Yevgeny Rybakov (Russia) 28:53.48
11. Koen Naert (Belgium) 29:04.87
12. Ricardo Ribas (Portugal) 29:09.47
13. Mats Lunders (Belgium) 29:12.86
14. Marius Vedvik (Norway) 29:42.10
15. Abdi Hakin Ulad (Denmark) 29:50.67
16. Mikael Ekvall (Sweden) 30:04.93
17. Himro Alame (Israel) 30:04.95
18. Girmaw Amare (Israel) 30:53.87
Tom Wiggers (Netherlands) DNF
Manuel Angel Penas (Spain) DNF
Adil Bouafif (Sweden) DNF
Serhiy Lebid (Ukraine) DNF
Mehmet Akkoyun (Turkey) DNF
Yassine Mandour (France) DNF
Quick Take #1: Farah is not at his best, but this performance had flashes of vintage Mo.
At 100 percent, Farah should have won by more than .55 seconds but given his recent health issues and lack of racing (just one track race in 2014, in June), he and coach Alberto Salazar should be pleased with this performance. Farah waited a second on the start line so as not to get in traffic early — he has often gone out at the back of the pack in championship races before — and didn’t start grinding the pace down until just over three laps to go. The finish was vintage Farah — he controlled the race from the front over the final few laps before really starting to move with 400 to go. He didn’t break Kaya until the home stretch, but once he got a gap it was clear he wasn’t going to be caught.
Quick Take #2: Farah had a near-identical last lap to his 10,000 win at Worlds last year, but…
In Moscow, Farah closed in 54.5 (28.0/26.5) to win 10k gold. Today in Zurich, he closed in 54.4 (27.4/27.0). Of course, the race itself and the final kilometer were much slower today (the winning time was 28:08 and the last k was 2:32 compared to 27:21 and 2:26 in Moscow), so Farah’s performance last year was clearly better. And the Moscow 10,000 was also the slowest of his global championship wins — in his two Olympic golds and two other WC golds, Farah closed in 53.4 or faster each time (and closed his 5,000 at the Portland Track Festival in June in 52.6).
All this means that it’s hard to tell exactly where Farah would stack up among the world’s best on the track right now, but based on how hard he appeared to be working to drop the 20-year-old Kaya (whose 28:08 today was a 9-second PR) on the final turn, he’s probably a step behind guys like Caleb Ndiku, Yenew Alamirew and Galen Rupp right now.
This was not a World Championship winning caliber performance, but didn’t have to be. Neither Vernon nor Kaya has ever qualified for a global championships outdoors before.
Below is a table that shows you how Farah’s winning time and final lap stacks up against his other major 10,000m going back to 2010.
|10,000m Race||Time||Farah’s last lap|
|2011 Worlds (2nd)||27:14.07||53.3|
|2011 Pre Classic||26:46.57||55.7|
Quick Take #3: The 10,000 has been a great event for Great Britain at Europeans.
Team GB got a historic win from 40-year-old Jo Pavey last night as she became the oldest woman to win an event at Europeans and now it can add to that a 1-2 finish in the men’s 10,000. This was essentially a battle between Turkey and Great Britain at the end, with two men from each country battling for the three medals.
The man claiming the silver behind Farah was 28-year-old Andy Vernon, who ran 13:11 earlier this year at Payton Jordan. Once Farah passed Kaya, Vernon tried to move past on the inside but Kaya moved onto the rail to block him, forcing Vernon to go outside. Vernon never gave up and was just able to nip Kaya at the line by .06 seconds. It was reminiscent of the finish from 2010, when Farah won and Great Britain’s Chris Thompson took with a lean after finishing with the same time as Italy’s Daniele Meucci.
Quick Take #4: Farah goes for history on Sunday.
The gold medal brings Farah’s haul to four in the European Championships, and in Sunday’s 5,000 meter final, he will attempt to become the first man to win five individual golds at the European championships. He could also be the first runner to win three golds in the 5,000 — no one else has more than one. Of course, he’s benefited from the championships being held once every two years (prior to 2010, they were held once every four).
Quick Take #5: This was the slowest winning time at Europeans since…2012.
Even though 28:08 seems glacial for a championship 10,000, the winning time was actually 14 seconds faster than 2012, when Farah did not compete.
Quick Take #6: Farah Wanted The Race Even Slower
After the race Farah said, “It’s alright. It’s good enough, obviously, to win. But at the same time it would have been nice to get it quicker, but that’s where it was. Sometimes it’s important to just win the race then think about times. … It would have been nice to have it a little bit slower, but the guys, you know, went to the front and pushed the pace. That’s what racing’s about; you can’t choose. A few times I tried to cut to the front and slow down, but it didn’t work.”