It has become a familiar sight this, Mo Farah with the union jack sitting joyously on his shoulders while photographers form a chaotic half-moon around him. Only this time there was a twist. He wasn’t standing on a podium, but perched by a stadium clock showing a new world record, the first of his career.
In a week in which a Twitter spat with his fellow British athlete Andy Vernon mushroomed into accusation and counter-accusation about what exactly Vernon said regarding his nationality, this was Farah doing what he does best: running so smoothly and supremely that it almost masked his intense victory lust.
Almost, but not quite. There was no hiding Farah’s desire when he entered the final 400m needing to run it in 58 seconds to break Kenenisa Bekele’s two-mile indoor world record of 8min 4.35sec, set on this track in 2008. Or the release as he hurled himself raggedly over the line in 8:03.40, nearly a second quicker than Bekele’s old world best.
Mo Farah admits Twitter row with Andy Vernon inspired him to record run
The International Association of Athletics Federations does not class this as a championship world record because the two-mile race is a rarely run race. But tell that to Farah, who was justifiably elated that the sacrifice of seven weeks in Ethiopia, away from his wife and family, had been so satisfyingly rewarded.
“People have been saying, when are you going to break a world record? So it was nice to do it in the UK,” said Farah. “It was very special.”
He admits he may acquire a taste for more of this – but at the moment his desire to add to his two Olympic titles and three world championship titles burns stronger than his loose-fitting ambition to break Bekele’s 5,000m and 10,000m world records.
“It’s two different things, going for a world record or going for a championship,” Farah said. “And I want to be able to know I collected as many medals as I can for my country, so in years to come I can look back and show my kids.”
Farah’s victory – one of seven for Britain in the Birmingham indoor grand prix, the most ever in this event – stole the show from Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who broke her second British indoor record in a week in winning the long jump with a leap of 6.93m.
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