Saturday Night Track at the London World Athletics championship was the final farewell for two of the sports legends.
Britain’s Mo Farah targeted Gold in the 5000m to do the double with the 10,000m he achieved earlier in the week, and the Jamaican – or should that be the world’s -best sprint legand, Usain Bolt looked for one last Gold in a major championships to add to his vast collection.
As has been well reported, neither achieved their golden goals, but both achieved the respect, status and accolades that they richly deserved for service and inspiration to their nations, athletics and the sporting world.
For Mo, it was a strategic game of chess as the remainder of the 5000m field construed to outwit and out run the man who has totally dominated these distances over recent years.
He earned the respect of all who challenged him and they knew they had to be at their best and catch him at his weakest.
“I was highly prepared for this race and I knew I was going to beat Mo Farah. After the 10km he was maybe tired so he did not have enough for the last kick,” said Muktar Edris, the victor of Mo’s last track fight. “I was stronger. I have won the gold in front of his home crowd. I didn’t have much support but we did it.
I did the Mobot out of respect as well for him.”
It is true that Mo never set a world record, but in terms of head to head fighting, in terms of blistering eye-popping enthusiasm and efforts, there were no better to put on spikes.
On Saturday he left no energy, he left no determination, he left no desire when he honored the sport and the race by his usual 100 plus percent. It wasn’t good enough for Gold, but his Silver was achieved with the same commitment that he earned each of his Golds and that is the memory of the track running Mo Farah the sport will keep.
“It’s been amazing. It’s been a long journey but it’s been incredible. It doesn’t quite sink in until you compete here and cross the line – I had a couple of minutes to myself – that this is it.
I gave it all, I didn’t have a single bit left at the end.” said the British Knight
Now it is the road runners who should be worrying — He may not be the fastest over the distances, and he may take a year or so to get into the ways and differences of the longer distances, but woe be the man who underestimates the tenacity of this lightning lightweight, whose change of pace and mental strength will unquestionably put him on podiums around the road running scene.
The next chapter will be as exciting as the last…. The book has yet to be completed..
Listen to Mo Farah in the media zone last night summing up his race and the way forward..
Cramp was probably the least desirable exit for The Legend of athletics – Usain Bolt. certainly not the fitting finale that the 60,000 crowd had desired to watch, or would have wished for the Jamaican giant – Giant as in stature and Giant in character and Giant of the sprints.
From the double World records in Beijing through London and onto Rio, a ruthless fighter and a gentleman who this season, more than most, has shown his ability to be confident yet humble in victory, but also in defeat, and also in injury.
He is everything one expects of a role model, his character was never in doubt. His status and stand for clean sport was never in doubt, and yet ironically on Sunday 6 August, despite the disappointment of defeat, his instantaneous defense of Gold Medalist Justin Gatlin is a memory few at the media conference will ever forget.
“Wooooh – What?,” his reaction to a question aimed to trip the new 100m world champion. “I’ve got this,” Bolt whispered to Gatlin, as the Legend proceeded to close down the journalist for disrespecting the work of the three professionals, and cast doubt on Gatlin’s status.
The sport and its competitors have always been bigger for Bolt.
While the American duo raced their finest race, not fast, but the finest possible on Sunday 6 August, and while the mass of the 60,000 were awestruck by every footfall of their countrymen crashing through the line of the 4 x 100, Bronze was NOT the medal the world wanted in the 100m and cramp was not the exit Usain Bolt deserved!
Tonight track and field says good bye to Mo Farah and Usain Bolt.
Others will come creating their own legacies, but none will be the same
Two Great Competitors who asked and gave no quarter, but pulled the sport of athletics to heights that were actually far higher than their own achievements and for all athletics aficionados there will be few ways to thank either men…..