Athletics Athletics

Longosiwa thrives as Farah seals double


NAIROBI, Kenya, August 11- Despite running the race of his life to earn his country a first senior medal Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa had to be satisfied with the bronze as Britain went bananas as Mo Farah claimed the Olympics distance double by clinching the men 5000m gold.

Longosiwa who was 12th in the last edition in Beijing posted 13:42.36 to finish third behind Farah who crossed the line in 13:41.66 as Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel (13:41.98) took the silver.

His compatriot world junior record holder, Isaiah ‘Chairman’ Kiplangat who ran a season’s best of 12:48.64 in Paris last month that is the third fastest of the year, was fifth in 13:43.83 just behind Bernard Lagat of the USA (13:42.99).

Moroccan Abdalaati Iguider led through the first lap in a pedestrian 1:11, with Farah seemingly soaking up the atmosphere two metres off the tail-ender.

Ethiopian-born Azeri Hayle Ibrahimov took up the running, until Farah strode to the front after opening the 1km.

The atmosphere in the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium was electric, the crowd rising to their feet, waving Union Jack flags and roaring every time the runners passed.

Lopez Lomong, who escaped war-torn Sudan as a refugee child and was adopted by an American family and now represents the United States, headed the field through with six laps to go.

With few surges, the slow pace continued for another lap until Ethiopian duo Yenew Alamirew and Gebremeskel lengthened their strides.

Farah sat on Gebremeskel’s shoulder and took the lead with 600 metres to go. Training partner Galen Rupp of the United States who won the 10,000m silver joined him but was then overtaken by Lagat and a barging Alamirew.

The pace upped, the noise reaching a crescendo as Farah rounded the final bend with gritted teeth, eyes glued on the big screen television beyond the finish line.

The victory allowed the 29-year-old Farah to add his name to an illustrious list of runners who have already achieved the double, including Czech Emil Zatopek, Finland’s Lasse Viren, Ethiopian Miruts Yifter and, most recently, Kenenisa Bekele, also of Ethiopia, at the 2008 Beijing Games.

“I’m just amazed – two gold medals, who would have thought that?” Farah, who moved to Britain at the age of eight after being born in Somalia and spending some years in Djibouti told AFP.

“I got great support from the crowd. It means a lot to me and those two medals are obviously for my two girls who are coming,” he said of the twins his wife is expecting.

Farah crossed the line with arms raised, mouth and eyes opened wide in shock, before slapping his shaven head, punching the air and making a triumphant lap of honour with a British flag knotted around his neck.

David Bowie’s ‘We can be heroes’ blasted from the tannoy as the crowd screamed out ‘Mo, Mo!’ in unison.