BEIJING (AFP) - Mo Farah etched his name in the pantheon of middle distance running greats and put a tough season opening behind him Saturday when he defended his 10,000m title at the world championships in Beijing.
The Briton’s victory was his sixth consecutive global track distance title, an unprecedented feat that saw him better the likes of Ethiopian legends Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie.
“It was amazing to be able to go out there, cross the line and defend my title,” said Farah.
“It hasn’t been an easy year, but it’s nice to get the team started well.
“I just get to keep doing what I’m good at and that is running and winning medals for my country. I just have to concentrate on winning my races.”
Since losing to Ibrahim Jeilan in the 10,000m at the 2011 worlds in Daegu, Farah rebounded to win the 5,000m in South Korea, and followed up with 5,000m-10,000m doubles at both the London 2012 Olympics and the 2013 world championships in Moscow.
Having now defended his title here, he will have a chance to make it seven global titles in the 5,000m, scheduled for next Saturday.
“Ill just get a nice bath, recover, eat well and go now and rest up,” Farah said.
Should he win that race, he would become the first man to complete a 5,000 and 10,000m double at consecutive world championships.
Farah clocked 27min 01.13sec for gold ahead of Kenyans Geoffrey Kamworor (27:01.76) and Paul Tanui (27.02.83).
A gentle early pace was set by Japan-based Tanui, Farah happy to sit near the back of the pack.
Tanui’s teammates, Bedan Karoki and Kamworor, the 2015 world cross-country and 2014 half-marathon champion, bunched at the front, injecting some pace but not really surging enough to bother the field.
With 16 laps to go, the Somali-born Farah gently moved up through the field on the tail of American training partner Galen Rupp and behind Merga and the Kenyans.
Soon that lead pack was cut to five, Merga dropping out to leave just Kamworor, Tanui, Rupp, Farah and Merga.
Farah, known for his blistering last-lap pace, made his move with 500m to go, moving slickly to the front and peeling away.
He was almost tripped, Farah saying: “I nearly went down, but I managed to stay on my feet and win the race.”
Although tracked by the fast-finishing Kamworor and Tanui, the Londoner held on for victory that made up for his Bird’s Nest outing at the 2008 Olympics, when he failed to qualify and suffered what described as the “biggest disappointment” in his career.
The comprehensive win will also help Farah bury some headlines he made for all the wrong reasons in recent months, with his renowned American coach Alberto Salazar accused of violating several anti-doping rules, notably involving Rupp.
Salazar has strenuously denied all the accusations against him and Farah, who was not accused of any wrongdoing, has vowed to stick by his coach unless any allegations are proven.
Rupp went on to finish fifth (27:08.91) behind Karoki in fourth.