Mo Farah draws on composure to fulfil Olympic promise

RIO DE JANEIRO - Mo Farah joined some of the greats of Olympics distance running as he retained his 10,000 metre title but it was his composure as much as his athletic ability that stood out.

The Briton's name can now be listed alongside those of Emil Zatopek, Lasse Viren, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele as the only men to have won the title at successive Games.

Yet the way Farah achieved his latest success was all the more remarkable for the fact that he fell early in the race, picked himself up and eventually made his way through the field, surging to the front at the death in his trademark style.

"He never loses his head," said former training partner Galen Rupp, who finished fifth and took responsibility both for bumping Farah to the ground and helping him recover. "In all the times I've trained with him, he always keeps his composure well.

"There was a lot of pushing, guys slowing down and people pushing from behind. I didn't want it to effect the race at all. I told him to get behind me and I would lead him back up. I'm just grateful he was still able to run his race."

Farah admitted he came pretty close to losing his cool and had to play some mind games to stop thinking his race was over and get himself back in the reckoning. No wonder he was, in his own words, mentally tired at the end.

What got him through was thinking of his older daughter Rihanna, the promise he made to her that he would bring back a medal, and the reassurance of knowing that he had more than half the race left after going down in the 10th lap.

"I told myself 'don't panic, don't panic'," he said on Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium after he had recorded another victory that must have sapped a little more spirit from his rivals.

"I managed to dig deep," Farah said. And how. Kenyan Paul Kipngetich Tanui pushed him so close, finishing a fraction of a second behind the winning time of 27 minutes 5.17 seconds. He also claimed the Somali-born Briton was an inspiration, but could have been forgiven for describing him as an irritatingly impressive obstacle.

The 33-year-old who became Britain's first track and field athlete to win three Olympic gold medals just never seems to have a bad day.

At longer distances - half-marathon and marathon - he is at the start of his career and has some work to do. But on the track he must seem almost unbeatable, particularly on nights like this.

"One of the things that keeps me going is winning medals for my country and making my nation proud," Farah said.

"I remember 2012 like yesterday and most people have had four years to try to beat me. It's nice to make history and I'm going to enjoy it."

Asked after the race what made him such a successful athlete, Farah pointed to the way he has learnt what his body can and can't do, and the confidence he has gained from his training endeavours repeatedly paying off.

He might just as well have said that he was born with an amazing talent and he has found, more by luck than judgement at first, the right way to hone it for success.

Farah wanted to be a soccer player and he is still an enthusiastic fan of Premier League team Arsenal but fortunately for Britain, and the world of track and field, his speed and endurance was spotted early on.

The controversy over his Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar still lurks in the background, with the New York Times having reported in June that the United States Anti-Doping Agency was investigating him.

Salazar has emphatically denied any involvement with performance-enhancing drugs and Farah has never been accused of wrongdoing, but the runner was still questioned on the subject after this victory.

Beyond saying again that he "supports clean sport", which he did in his media conference, Farah can do little more to make the topic go away than keep winning and passing his doping tests.

His next chance to shine comes on Saturday in the 5,000m, when he can become only the second man to defend both that and his 10,000m title. You can almost hear his rivals trying to convince themselves he is beatable already.