DAEGU, South Korea, August 28 – British distance runner Mo Farah will face the ultimate challenge against Ethiopian star Kenenisa Bekele in the final of the 10,000m on the second day of the world championships on Sunday.
Farah and Bekele go head-to-head in an evening that also features the finals of the men’s 100m, the women’s discus and long jump, and the conclusion of the decathlon. The men’s 20km race walk takes place in the morning.
The 28-year-old Farah, who moved to Britain from Somalia when he was eight, is many people’s favourite for the 10,000m gold but is keen to play down that tag, magnanimously describing Bekele as the “Usain Bolt” of distance running.
That description is not far off the mark: Bekele goes into the race as the reigning two-time Olympic and four-time world champion and world record holder.
Although never beaten over 10,000m, Bekele has had a long injury lay-off dating back to early 2010 and Farah admitted that he did not “have a clue what to expect from him”.
“He’s like the Usain Bolt of distance running, he’s dominated and shown by how many medals he’s won that he’s a great athlete.
“If you want to look up to someone and follow a class athlete, you just want to be like Kenenisa because he’s just different class. He’s the man. I’ve got to get it right on the day.”
A victory for Farah would hand a European nation its first victory in the 25-lap race since Italian Alberto Cova won the event in the inaugural 1983 worlds, the remaining 11 titles having gone the way of Ethiopia (8) and Kenya (3).
The last Europeans to make a podium were Italy’s Francesco Panetta (silver) and East Germany’s Hansjorg Kunze (bronze) in Rome in 1987.
Bekele will appear using his champion’s wild card and should he win it would represent a record fifth consecutive title – one more than compatriot Haile Gebrselassie.
Following the 10,000m will be the men’s 100m where Jamaica’s Usain Bolt will be defending his title if he makes it smoothly through the heat and semi-finals.
The event has been stripped of Bolt’s three top rivals, Jamaican duo Asafa Powell and Steve Mullings and American Tyson Gay, all ruled out.
Reigning world indoor and outdoor champion Brittney Reese of the United States is favourite to retain her women’s long jump title ahead of Russians Olga Zaytseva and Darya Klishina and US teammate Funmi Jimoh.
Dani Samuels will have a real test in her bid to defend her shock women’s discus title, having so far had a moderate season and trailing Germany’s Nadine Muller and Cuban Yarelis Barrios in the Diamond League standings.