Mo Farah's bid for 5,000m title is tough ask, says GB's head of science

Mo Farah

The images of Mo Farah crossing the victory line – arms outstretched as if embracing the world, before kneeling to whisper a silent prayer – are so familiar we have almost become complacent: as if it is something Britain's greatest distance runner merely does at every championships before the Mobot and medal ceremony.

But while bookmakers make Farah the favourite to add the 5,000m world championship title to his 10,000m crown on Friday, the head of science for British athletics fears he is a "long shot".

Barry Fudge, who has looked after Farah at every major championships since 2009, believes doubling up will be harder in Moscow than at London 2012 because there are only six days to recover between finals rather than seven. Fudge also worries that while none of the Kenyan and Ethiopians in Friday's race ran in the 10,000m, Farah's body may not quite sing after Saturday's final and Tuesday's 5,000m heats.

"The extra day makes a huge difference," Fudge says. "His opponents are going to go hard and he's done a 10km and a 5km already. As much as anything it's the damage to the legs from the Mondo track. It's incredibly hard. It is a long shot when you're doubling up. You don't know how your body's going to respond. You do all the training, all the prep, but the human body is one of those things. You just hope that it will be all right."

Another concern for Farah is that, unlike at the Olympics, he has had no access to his coach Alberto Salazar's $50,000 cryosauna – which uses nitrogen gas to lower the body's temperature and reduce inflammation – because it was impossible to get it to Moscow. Instead Farah has been having massages, ice baths and resting as much as possible.

Part of that, Fudge reveals, has involved up to 12 hours sleep a day in an altitude tent. "I won't go into any details because it's our competitive advantage," Fudge says. "But we have a strategy to try to make sure his body still thinks it's at altitude."

If Farah does triumph he would become only the second man, after Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, to win the double-double of 5,000m and 10,000m golds in the Olympics and the following world championships. That, says Fudge, sums up the task he faces. "Most people wouldn't attempt it. Most people can't. The only guys doubling up here are Mo and his training partner Galen Rupp. The Ethiopians and Kenyans aren't. It's hard. If Mo wins a medal he's going against the odds."

Six men in the 5,000m final have faster personal bests than Farah. Partly that is because Farah is a seeker of trophies, not times. But while he could go faster, will he be made to?

After winning the 10,000m, Farah revealed that the silver medallist Ibrahim Jeilan told him the Ethiopians had concocted a plan to blast it hard from the start in an attempt to drain the sprint out of him, only for the itchy heat, cloying humidity – and perhaps also a little fear – to intervene.

"I think they are a little bit intimidated because they know I am capable of running fast at the end," he said. "In the middle I am strong as well. They think, 'We've got to do something different', and sometimes at championships that is not easy."

Farah will face many familiar foes in Friday's final – including Bernard Lagat, the American who was fourth in the 5,000m at London 2012, and Edwin Soi, the 27-year-old Kenyan who beat him in a sprint finish in Eugene in June when Farah had his energy leeched by a virus. But the greatest danger may come from two 19-year-olds: Hagos Gebrhiwet, the highly touted Ethiopian who has a PB of 12:47.53 – six seconds faster than Farah – and Isiah Koech, who won this year's Kenyan trials and has a PB of 12.48.64. Both men came off worst to Farah at London 2012. But they are a year older now; and possibly a year stronger too.

But while Fudge wonders whether Farah is up against it, he is still backing his man. "He's got a great engine and the perfect physiology for a championship runner but his ability to switch off, relax is incredible," he says. "His desire is also incredible. When you are sitting on top of a mountain and you have not seen your family for four months and you're doing 130 miles that's hard. Unless you are 100% committed it's going to be a disaster. There will probably come a day when he gets fed up with it but we're not anywhere near that just now."

Fudge also insists that despite the fame and the glory, Farah has not changed a jot – except in one respect. "Mo is now incredibly confident," he says. "You can see him just walking round the hotel, he knows he's a winner." And he would like to keep it that way.

Powered by article was written by Sean Ingle in Moscow, for The Guardian on Thursday 15th August 2013 23.17 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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