Mo Farah gets long distance double at Euros
ZURICH (AP) — When it comes to big competition dominance, Mo Farah proved again he is the gold standard.
The Briton clinched his 5,000-10,000 meter double at the European Championships on Sunday, giving his troubled season a golden finish that now makes him the double long distance champion at continental, world and Olympic levels, all at the same time.
While Usain Bolt can major in sprint triples, Farah only has two races to excel at — but he does so with equal style.
And with three doubles in the bag, Farah is already looking at a new cycle that starts with the world championships in Beijing next year. And in 2016, he has two Olympic titles to defend.
“Rio is definitely the big one,” he said.
First of all, though, he wants a smooth season next year.
Only last month, Farah said he had been airlifted to a hospital with a stomach ailment at his U.S. training camp but was good enough for gold in two races in five days here.
“If you would have asked me two weeks ago, I was so down,” Farah said.
After proving his rude health during his 10,000 victory on Wednesday, Farah showed off his running smarts and explosive power in the 5,000, tugging in on the bends and unleashing his unmatched kick for home that has now been unstoppable at big championships since the 2012 London Olympics.
“History is important to me,” Farah said. He now is five-for-five in European championship runs going back to 2010.
Bolt was on hand to witness Farah’s 10,000 victory and the two embraced in the stands afterward. Farah said their working ethic creates a bond.
“What it is — ‘believe in yourself’,” Farah said. “And I see him training really hard. If you put the work in, you can achieve,” he said.
His gold capped the best-ever European Championships for Britain on a five-gold afternoon. Britain finished with 12 gold medals and 23 in total, just edging France, which had nine gold and 23 overall.
On Sunday, Farah’s domination was so overpowering he had time to make his signature Mobot celebration with his hands over his head in the form of the letter “M″ as he crossed the line. He beat Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan by more than 2 seconds.
The only athlete who could have stolen the day from Farah was Dutch double sprint champion Dafne Schippers. But she missed the handover in the 4x100 relay that could have given her three titles. Instead, it was Britain that sped to gold.
Mahiedine Mekhissi also could have had a double but won his first gold on Sunday, outrunning all opposition in the 1,500 meters on Sunday, three days after the Frenchman was disqualified in the steeple chase for stripping off his shirt in celebration before crossing the finish line.
Mekhissi left all opponents standing with 450 meters to go with a devastating kick for home that left him enough time on the finishing straight to wave to the crowds at the Letzigrund stadium. It was all show again, but at least he kept his shirt on.
“I ran with rage,” he said. “My reaction was the reaction of a champion.”
His burst for home coincided with a crash in the pack that knocked out some challengers. After Mekhissi coasted home, Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen took silver and Chris O’Hare of Britain bronze.
The ease with which he won the steeple chase on Thursday was just as impressive, but Mekhissi stripped to his bare chest, took the last hurdle with his shirt between his teeth and was later disqualified for the dress code violation.
Mekhissi said he had almost skipped the 1,500 after Thursday’s shock disqualification but took part because he still wanted to leave the weeklong event as a champion. In celebration, he held up two fingers — for the two titles he thought he deserved.
“Winning was the best thing I could do after the steeple,” he said.
It was better for Britain in the men’s relay where 400 champion Martyn Rooney won his second gold by anchoring the 4x400 team home in front of Russia and Poland. And 200 champion Adam Gemili added a second gold by anchoring the British 4x100 relay squad home. Olympics long jump champion Greg Rutherford made it a five-title day for Britain.
Christina Schwanitz won the shot put ahead of Russia’s Yevgeniya Kolodko and Antje Moelder-Schmidt added a second German gold in the women’s steeple chase. Italy’s Daniele Meucci won the marathon title ahead of Yared Shegumo of Poland and Aleksey Reunkov of Russia.
Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen won the closing javelin competition.
Raf Casert can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert