LONDON: British athletics legend Mo Farah was hailed by the British press on Sunday despite his glorious track career ending with defeat in the 5,000 metres world championships final.
Although his silver medal performance was pushed out of the limelight by the drama of the men’s 4x100m relay, which saw Usain Bolt collapse with a cramp on his own swansong as the Britain pulled off a remarkable victory, as well as the thrilling opening of the Premier League season, Farah still commanded many column inches.
The 34-year-old saw his global championship win streak of 10 gold medals dating back to the 5,000m at the 2011 world championships ended as Muktar Edris of Ethiopia held off his desperate charge in the finishing straight.
“End of the track for Mo” headlined The Sunday Times, adding that it was a “shattering defeat in front of an adoring crowd.” However, the paper eulogised about the performance by Farah – who came to Britain with his mother and two of his brothers from Somalia via a spell with his grandparents in Djibouti aged just eight – in the stadium where he had memorably achieved his first Olympic double in 2012.
“If defeat is the making of a true champion, then Mo Farah left the track at the Olympic stadium last night as the greatest champion of all,” wrote its sports writer. “That he failed, beaten finally, for the first time at a major championships since 2011, by Muktar Edris of Ethiopia, stripped nothing from the legend.”
The Sun on Sunday, never one to miss out on an eye-catching pun, perhaps unkindly went with ‘Slow Mo.’ However, Farah – who has had a tense relationship with large sections of the British media over the questions raised by his loyalty to controversial United States-based coach Alberto Salazar – would have been happier with what followed.
“The 34-year-old is hanging up his spikes to take to the roads in the marathon after a stellar career which has seen him establish himself as one of the all-time greats of the sport,” purred the Sun correspondent. “Yet despite the huge support from the home crowd packed into the London Stadium, Britain’s hero was finally knocked off his perch as the king of long-distance running.”
The Mail On Sunday headlined their tale of Farah’s final bow ‘Oh Mo!’ They called it a ‘disappointing silver’ but pointed to the remarkable career of Britain’s most successful ever athlete. And they took aim at America’s Kenyan-born bronze medallist Richard Chelimo for making Farah’s trademark ‘Mobot’ gesture and then running his hand across his throat as the 5,000m runners lined up before their race.
“It is what it is, I just meant that I was going to take Mo down,” said Chelimo. The Observer remarked that those who had come in their thousands with their faces painted with ‘Go Mo!’ and banners with ‘Run Farah Run’ were to be left disappointed. It also commented on how his soon to turn five twin daughters Aisha and Amani had never seen him lose a major final before Saturday.
“He curled into the foetal position at the finish, beaten in a major final for the first time in six years,” wrote the correspondent. “Silver on this occasion stung like defeat and salt was rubbed into open wounds by his conqueror, Muktar Edris of Ethiopia, performing the iconic Mobot at the finish.”