Amid the congratulations pouring in for Mo Farah following his 10,000m gold medal, there was one perhaps one unwelcome addition as his former team-mate Andy Vernon reopened their long-running feud.
Although the British Athletics performance director, Neil Black, has insisted that the mutual antipathy between the pair had not resulted in Vernon’s non-selection, the European 10,000m silver medallist again hinted that Farah was behind it.
“Well done on your medal @Mo_Farah Great to hear you love to represent your country,” wrote Vernon on Twitter. “Thank you for stopping me do the same. Good luck for 5K”
The pair, who had a furious row on Twitter this year, clashed most recently on Farah’s return to the track in Lausanne when Vernon said the double Olympic champion swore at him and refused to shake his hand. Vernon later added that he was “not bitter, just disappointed”. He added: “I like to represent my country too. Someone doesn’t want me to then rubs salt into the wounds.”
When asked about the situation earlier this week, Black insisted that Vernon, who achieved one of the two qualification times, had been left out for performance reasons not because of any personality clash: “Obviously that’s what Andy thought and other people think that or whatever but it’s absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Meanwhile, Farah insisted he was focusing on the task ahead and believed he could repeat his feat of winning the 5,000m and 10,000m double as at the last world championships and Olympics.
“It’s doable. It’s important that I have three days to look after myself and to try and recover, that is the most important thing. After the heats I will see how I feel,” said Farah, who won gold on Saturday in the 10,000m in a testing race in which his Kenyan rivals conspired against him.
He said that he expected more of the same in the 5,000m heats on Wednesday. “I don’t know what is possible. There are four Kenyan guys in the 5,000m because one has a wildcard,” he said. “It could be a fast one, they will be thinking: ‘Mo will be tired from the 10’ or it could come down to the last six or seven laps, I honestly don’t know.”
Farah has endured a testing summer given doping allegations levelled at his coach Alberto Salazar and his training partner Galen Rupp, which they have strenuously denied. He said he expected the 5,000m to be harder than at previous championships.
“It would be easier if they just sat back and wait until there are two laps to go, but I don’t think it is going to come to that.”
He also paid tribute to Jessica Ennis-Hill, who followed his gold on Saturday by winning the heptathlon on Sunday. “It is great, it will give her big confidence going into Rio to win gold. It’s quite amazing and will hopefully get the team spirit even higher,” he said.
“It is not easy, she is a mother and that changes a lot. I am away from my family seven months of the year, year in and year out. It’s pretty difficult for Jess to be away, it’s not easy but she loves the sport and I am sure it will drive her even more.”
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