NEW world 10,000 metres champion Mo Farah started the preparation for his second gold medal bid with a late night massage in the woods outside Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
Farah, having produced his customary sprint finish to clinch the only global title missing from his collection, was denied access to the warm-down area. Not even his seven-year old stepdaughter Rihanna waving his medal could make the officials change their minds.
Instead he received a recovery massage from physiotherapist Neil Black, also UK Athletics’ performance director and acting head coach, on a portable table amid the trees. Farah said: “It was unbelievable. I finished drug-testing, everybody was leaving and I had to see Neil Black. We tried to go through and they weren’t having it, they wouldn’t let us in.
“Rihanna was like, ‘There’s daddy’s medal here’. But they weren’t having it and so we came outside and just did it under a tree. It was for recovery, to make sure everything’s okay. Neil knows, in terms of my body, better than anyone else. He’s the physio I always see.”
After room service steak and chips at his hotel and a little sleep, the 30-year-old turned his attention to the 5,000m and his pursuit of the double-double.
Only the great Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele has won double gold in the men’s distance events at both the Olympics and World Championships – he did so in 2008 in Beijing and 2009 in Berlin. Farah, who did the double at London 2012, is on the verge of the same feat and said: “It would be great, it’s something I want to do.”
The 5,000m heats are tomorrow morning, with the final on Friday night, meaning there is little time for Farah’s body to recover. It is one day fewer than he had at the Olympics.
Farah said he did not know whether that would be an issue, with the aim just to do enough in his heat. “I said [at the Olympics] I was a lot more tired than I was, which worked out well,” he said. “I’ll have to say I’ve got a sore leg this time. I’ll come up with something.”
He is still baffled why his Kenyan and Ethiopian challengers do not set a tougher race pace to try to break him.
Farah’s final-lap time in Saturday’s 10,000m was 54.49 seconds, quick enough to see off the challenge of Ibrahim Jeilan – sweet revenge after the Ethiopian pipped him to the world title two years ago in Daegu.
Jeilan told him after the race the Ethiopians did have team orders, just did not follow them.
“One of them was meant to go hard and another one was meant to follow through and go hard again,” Farah said. “They were all going to do a couple of laps each and try to take it out. But I think it was just too hot for them and they didn’t feel great.”
Farah’s confidence could not be higher and he even accepts his rivals are “a little bit intimidated” by his fearsome kick.
The problem with success is that winning is now taken for granted by others. “I was getting texts from people just saying, ‘Go and do it’,” he said. “I’m like, ‘It’s not as easy as that’. If it was it would be boring. If it was, everyone would be winning.”
But few would back against Farah doing so again on Friday.