Mo Farah wrote his name into the record books by completing a hat-trick of long-distance doubles at global championships by retaining his world 5,000 metres title in Beijing.
The 32-year-old followed up his 10,000m triumph by storming to gold over the shorter distance to rack up his seventh straight global crown – at the 2012 Olympics and two world championships.
It is great to make history. A double means so much to me
The slow early pace, set by Farah’s team-mate Tom Farrell at the front early on, played into his hands and he took advantage, unleashing his devastating kick past Kenya’s Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku in the final 150m to cross the line a comfortable winner in 13 minutes 50.38 seconds.
The Kenyans had worked as a team in the 10,000m to try to neutralise Farah’s finishing speed and, although it did not work, it was expected his rivals would try something similar again.
Instead the early pace was slow, Farah loitering at the back.
He took closer order with seven laps to go and then moved on to the shoulder of Imane Merga as the Ethiopian hit the front with three laps to go.
Ndiku did at least try to pose a problem for the Briton, moving up a gear in a long bid for home with 800m remaining and finally stretching out the field.
But Farah is the master at fast finishing and he went with the Kenyan before bursting past him as they headed into the home straight for the final time. Ndiku had no answer and had to dig in to hold on for silver in 13mins 51.75secs. Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet took bronze, while Farrell ended up 15th.
“It is great to make history,” Farah said. “I didn’t feel great, my hammy [hamstring] was playing up a bit, but the medical team helped me through it and tonight to come out here and make a double means so much to me. I was kind of getting nervous for the first time in a little while, but thanks to all the medical team. It was amazing to do it.”
Farah’s pregnant wife Tania and young family were not in Beijing, but back at his home in Portland, Oregon, and he added: “I am so looking forward to spending time with my family. I just want to go home and celebrate with them.”
He was labelled the greatest British sportsman by Brendan Foster, and said: “We had people such as David Beckham and the rest of the guys, we have had so many legends and to be in the same category as them is amazing.
“If you believe in something you can get there. Do what you can. I never doubt myself.”
This season has certainly been one of Farah’s toughest.
Caught up in doping allegations surrounding his coach Alberto Salazar and, although accused of no wrongdoing himself, questioned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency as part of its investigation into the claims, Farah has been forced to endure a tumultuous time off the track.
On the track, though, nothing has changed. His rivals have still not come up with a way to stop him winning.
The only question remaining now is: what more is there for Farah to achieve? He has confirmed his status as undoubtedly Britain’s finest ever athlete, and his place among the global greats of track and field is secure.
Critics will point to the absence of world records, but balancing the challenge of gearing up for a world record attempt with trying to peak for a championship is the tallest of orders.
Others will point to his ill-fated mrathon attempt in London last year. He can silence them when he switches to the road full-time.
Salazar, meanwhile, has denied all doping claims.
Earlier, Britain’s Shelayna Oskan-Clarke produced her second sub-two minute run in two races, but it was not enough to yield a medal in the 800m as she came home fifth in 1:58.99, Marina Arzamasova taking gold for Belarus in 1:58.03.
There was considerable disappointment for Britain in the final event of the evening, the men’s 4x100m relay. The team were going well and lying third at the final changeover following decent runs by Richard Kilty and Danny Talbot but James Ellington did not get the baton to anchor Chijindu Ujah and they failed to finish.
The Jamaicans cruised to victory, with Usain Bolt bringing the baton home and collecting his 11th World Championships gold medal. The USA finished second but were disqualified for an illegal handover, meaning China were promoted to silver – to the delight of the home crowd – and Canada bronze.
Britain’s women had fared much better in the 4x100m final, Asha Philip, Dina Asher-Smith, Jodie Williams and Desiree Henry producing a national record of 42.10secs. But it wasn’t enough for a medal in a race also won by the Jamaicans.