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In 2011, Britain’s Mo Farah made his Prefontaine Classic debut, winning the 10,000m in a European record of 26:46.57. Since that night, he has competed in the meet five more times, winning every year but one, 2013, when he finished second to Kenya’s Edwin Soi in the 5000m (he didn’t compete in 2014).
Farah, 34, who already has four Olympic gold medals and five world titles, lined up for Saturday’s 5000m at the 42nd Prefontaine Classic with one goal, to go out on top. He said that this was his final track race at Hayward Field and, indeed, on U.S. soil. He was ready for battle.
“Obviously, you know, I have a target on my back as I always do, because I’ve been on the top of my game for the last five years,” Farah told reporters. “Everybody wants to beat me.”
But not today. In a huge field of 29 men, Farah toyed with his competitors, including two-time world cross-country and half-marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya. He gingerly moved up through the field, varying the pace when it suited him. Farah put himself into second position with four laps to go, then unleashed a 55-second final lap to beat them all in 13:00.70, the fastest time in the world this year.
“It’s quite emotional,” Farah said of closing his Hayward Field career. “Two thousand eleven, that was my breakthrough year, if any of you guys remember. I wasn’t even expected to win the race and I won the race, got the British record, British and European record. Amazing. It gave me a massive boost, confidence to come to the Olympics. I won.”
Farah, who just finished a five-week high altitude training camp in Flagstaff, Ariz., with British Athletics, is already looking forward to the final track races of his career, especially the 5000m and 10,000m events at the IAAF World Championships in London in August. He’s won the last five global titles in the 5000m and the last four in the 10,000m, and is the favorite to repeat, despite being 34-years-old. He said that he’s changed his training to work with how his body has changed over time.
“As we say in England, you’re not a spring chicken anymore,” Farah said. “As you get older you lose that bounce. I’m a little bit more tired, but I’ve got a great team around me.”
Farah was unfazed by the accusations of doping violations facing his coach, Alberto Salazar, and the Nike Oregon Project, his training group. He said that he was focused on his own training and didn’t understand why such an investigation was still going on, unresolved, after so long.
“I’m not going to answer that again,” he said to a reporter who asked about the allegations made in a year-old, leaked report from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). “It’s like, look: this has been going on for so long. If he has crossed the line, done something, then be done about it. Why are we keep talking about it year after year? That’s what my point is.”
Behind Farah, Kamworor faded to third in 13:01.35, with Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha finishing between them in 13:01.21. Kamworor, who said before the race that he could beat Farah, said that he looks forward to facing him in the London World Championships in the 10,000m. He finished second to Farah at the last IAAF World Championships in Beijing in 2015.
“For me, absolutely, I have no doubt I’m going for him,” Kamworor said of Farah. “At world champs 10,000m we are going to face each other. The time (to beat him) is still there.”
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