MO Farah completed the long-distance double for the second Olympics in a row by racing to 5,000 metres gold in Rio.
A week after picking himself off the track following a trip to claim 10,000m gold, Farah avoided any such drama and pulled clear down the home straight to cross the line in 13 minutes 3.30 seconds.
He produced a storming final lap of 52.83secs to hold off the challenge of American Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo, who was disqualified and subsequently reinstated to runner-up in a personal best time of 13:03.90, and third-placed Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia. Amidst the DQs and appeals, which have become a feature of this meet, Scotland’s Andrew Butchart was briefly placed fourth before a final, immensely creditable, classification of sixth.
The 24-year-old from Dunblane said: “I can’t really ask for much more than that in my first major final. The race went off a lot faster than I thought it would, so I had to get on it and roll with it.
“Training has gone really well. I’ve not really had a bad race or session, so I’ll take that as a good year. They’ve got to try something [to get rid of Mo Farah]. They could have done anything, but it’s not going to happen – he’s in a different league to everyone else.
“Mo is a huge inspiration. I spoke to him before the race – we got on the bus together, sat next to each other and had a little chat. He’s such a relaxed person that you feed off it and it makes you more relaxed.
“I never doubted that he would win. Nobody can beat him. My placing was more important than my personal best [13:08.61]. I’ve never had to recover from a race before. This is my first time doing a heat and then a final.
“My legs have been in bits and I had a blister, which is really sore. To recover like I did, I’m so pleased. I guess it’s just good experience for the next championships that I go to.”
Fittingly, Farah’s medal was the one which brought Team GB level with their medal haul from London 2012 of 65, a total they surpassed a few minutes later when the women’s 4x400m relay team claimed bronze.
Victory saw 33-year-old Farah become only the second man after ‘Flying Finn’ Lasse Viren to win both long-distance track titles at two Games.
He has admitted it is taking him longer to recover between races now, and none of his Ethiopian rivals had taken part in the 10,000m. This was one he could lose.
But the Londoner’s tactical nous has got him out of sticky situations in the past, while his winning streak on the biggest stage intimidates rivals.
Farah, with his loping stride, was keen to stay out of trouble early on as the Ethiopians set a quick pace at the front.
He moved up to second with five laps to go and 200m later hit the front.
Gebrhiwet looked to challenge him at the bell as the race turned into a last-lap burn-up and there remains no one who can match Farah’s finishing speed as he spread his arms wide when he crossed the line.
Farah had stated ahead of the race that he needed this fourth gold for his son Hussein, with his three others dedicated to his older three children.
He dedicated his two Olympic golds from London 2012 to his twin daughters Aisha and Amani, who were born shortly after those successes, and said his 10,000m gong in Rio was for his oldest daughter Rhianna.
And the last member of the Farah brood has not been left out.
While Usain Bolt said goodbye to the Olympics with a ninth gold medal on Friday night, completing his ‘triple triple’, this, sealing the ‘double double’, was Farah’s last track race at a Games.
He plans to move to the roads after next year’s World Championships in London. Boy will he be missed.
Farah said: “There are no words to really describe it. The crowd were good to me.
“Mentally I had to be on top of my game – the guys were out there to get me – so I just had to be alert. You saw me sat at the back, but it wasn’t an easy last five lap burnout. The guys pushed on and on.
“At the beginning I felt a bit tired but I got going again. I went to the front and I know the guys were thinking about me, so I controlled the race. I wasn’t going to let anyone past me. Then just at the end I used my speed.
“You’ve got to do your homework [on your opponents]. That’s what I’ve done over the years. I haven’t won just medals, I’ve come sixth and seventh. To come back year after year to win is pretty amazing.
“I’m not so good at the marathon, to be honest, that was hard for me. It’s a different pain and a different challenge. In 2017 I’d like to be able to go onto the track in London but after that I’ll go onto the road for a couple of marathons.
“I owe it to the people in London to race at home, but I don’t know which event.”