NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 – Kenya’s tactic to dethrone star Mo Farah at his own backyard was once again dashed as Paul Tanui settled for bronze in a race that saw the home grown favourite successfully defend the men’s 10,000m and light up the Olympic Stadium on the opening day of the IAAF London World Championships on Friday night.
Farah, who now has bagged 10 back-to-back world titles in both 10,000m and 5,000m, once again proved to be the best in the globe as he produced a last lap kick to outshine the Kenyan trio that included two-time World Cross Champion Geoffrey Kamworor, Olympic silver medallist Tanui and Bedan Karoki to win in 26:49.51.
Ugandan 20-year old Joshua Cheptegei, who did the donkey work of setting the pace early, grabbed silver in a personal best of 26:49.94 while Tanui collected bronze in a seasonal best of 26:50.60 to see the Kenyan remain consistent in ensuring a podium finish, having come in the same position in Beijing 2015 and in Moscow 2013 editions.
Other Kenyans in the race Karoki came fourth in 26:52.12 ahead of Ethiopian Jemal Yimer who clocked 26:56.11 to finish fifth while Kamworor who was tipped to bring down Farah faded to finish sixth in 26:57.77.
The 34-year-old, who will bid to add a third successive world double in the 5000m later in the championships, had a narrow escape from disaster on the final lap when he was clipped twice but somehow kept his balance to prevail.
“It makes me proud to be British. It’s been a long journey, it’s been incredible,” said Farah who was accompanied by his family on a lap of honour.
“It’s been hard but I’m just mentally strong I guess.”
The Ugandans and the Kenyans deployed their strategy of ‘surging’ with them alternating the lead pace so as not to allow Farah to get into a rhythm.
Kamworor took up the pace with over 21 laps to run — Farah was seventh from the back but looking comfortable.
Kamworor exchanged the lead with Cheptegei performing the same role as he had in the Olympic final in Rio.
Farah moved along in around 12th as Kamworor and compatriot Tanui injected more pace up front and the trio of Ethiopians loomed large on the scene.
However, Farah decided with 14 laps remaining to show them he was unaffected by their tactics accelerating down the finishing straight to briefly head the field.
The Kenyans resumed their control up front soon afterwards and upped the pace recording a lap of 61 seconds with the Ugandans tucked in behind them and Farah 11th.
However, each time they thought they had him on the ropes Farah also sped up although Kamworor deliberately slowed it down recording a lap of 67 seconds.
With nine laps to go the pace setting was taken up by young Eritrean Aron Kifle but despite the constant changing of pace Farah despite being elbowed looked comfortable.
With 2000m to the tape Cheptegei led the field but was then passed by the fastest man in the world this year Ethiopian Abadi Hadis, who looked in ominously good shape.
With two laps to go Farah moved up to the shoulder of Hadis, passing him down the back straight, and as the bell rang he looked up at the big screen to see how his rivals were behind him.
Despite the two clippings Farah held his nerve and was able to repel one final challenge from the relentless Cheptegei to cross the line with fireworks going off to celebrate his feat.
Prior to the race Farah had come onto the track waving his arms in the air urging the spectators to up the volume.
Introduced as they lined up for the start to the crowd they responded with a deafening roar — but nothing compared to what greeted their champion as he crossed the line in glory half an hour later.