When you think of Mo Farah’s great victories over the incredible past five years it is hard to separate them from the soundtrack of Steve Cram’s high-octane closing-stage commentaries.
The BBC commentator is brilliant at what he does but the one time he possibly hit a bum note was at the Rio Olympics last year when he rather over-excitedly extolled “they succumb to the inevitable, bow to his superiority” as Farah streaked away for this third Olympic gold in the 10,000m.
That slightly over the top comment belied the thrilling fact that, in the unfolding of Farah’s races, it never seems inevitable. Remember Farah had to haul himself off the track in Rio after a hearts in mouth-inducing fall.
Compared to the razzmatazz of the blue riband 100m, watching athletes run multiple laps for around half an hour hasn’t always held the same appeal, but Farah makes distance running a compelling spectacle. The 10,000m is the track’s equivalent of a Test match, where skill and character is challenged to the limit, and Farah has had to fight tooth and nail for all of his now ten major global golds – six world and four Olympic.
To be fair, Cram made this very point in the BBC’s preview programme last Thursday, pointing out that the sight of Farah streaking away 200m from home to win by a country mile just doesn’t happen. Every time it is only in those last 10-20m that he seems to break rivals who have tried everything but can’t quite find a way to break him.
Friday night’s spellbinding win in the 10,000m on the opening night of the world championships in London was the greatest of them all as Farah, now 34, had to produce one of his fastest ever times of 26 minutes, 49 seconds to shake off an East African onslaught. It was a fitting way to end his glorious 10,000m track career, with next weekend’s 5,000m final following Wednesday’s heat now all that is left before he switches to marathon. The Briton was spiked a couple of times, including once on the last lap, and had to keep his composure in the face of some ferocious injections of pace from the Ethiopian Abadi Hadis, Kenyans Paul Tanui and Bedan Muchiri and eventual silver medallist Joseph Cheptegei of Uganda.
Farah, pictured, admitted after the race he had been hurt but insists he will overcome it and give everything in his quest for a fifth global double. “I’ve got a few cuts and bruises, just recover and get ready for the 5k,” he said.
Cram and co-commentator Brendan Foster were in no doubt this was his greatest moment and Farah said: “Yeah, I definitely agree with them, they know what they’re doing.”
And so does Farah. One more push required. The perfect end to Britain’s finest ever track career now beckons. Not inevitable but we wouldn’t have it any other way.