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How Mo Farah lost his world 5000m crown

How Mo Farah lost his world 5000m crown

Steve Smythe takes an in-depth look at the extensive work it took to dethrone a champion

Mo Farah awoke on Sunday morning to an unfamiliar feeling. The previous night he had been at the heart of a global championship race, but hadn’t finished first.

He has already been through the footage of a race which was won by Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris after the east Africans’ plan of Yomif Kejelcha sacrificing himself by setting the searing last lap pace worked.

Farah had wanted to look back over the event to see if there had been any spot where he could have given more or if there had been anything he could have done to give his track career the perfect ending he craved.

Yet, at London 2017, he had faced a very different scenario to what he had become accustomed to entering the last lap of a major 5000m final. Normally, the Briton is at the front and the race is operating on his terms.

On this occasion, Edris and Kejelcha were ahead at the bell while a third Ethiopian – Selemon Barega – was on the shoulder of the man who had been racing for this 11th consecutive global gold medal.

“I’ve always been the inside line in most of the races and no-one comes on the last lap,” said Farah, who also had Paul Chelimo of America and Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed at close quarters. “A few guys came in and, at that point, I was going flat out. I couldn’t have gone any faster. As I came through, if Chelimo hadn’t come in, it would have been easier to get out early on.

“I did all I could. Honestly, I went out there to win the race, I wanted to end on a high. But it happens. The better man won on the day. That’s part of athletics. Fair credit to the other guys to be able to go. They had three guys in the team – they said ‘one of you won’t get a medal’. To beat Mo. It’s taken them six years to do it but you’ve got to give it to them.”

So what exactly did it take to beat Farah for the first time in a championship 5000m in eight years?

Was it that Farah was tired from winning the 10,000m or fractionally past his best at the age of 34? Or was it the case that Edris was simply exceptional?

The Ethiopian’s finishing speed is close to Farah’s best and would have given the Briton a major challenge in his earlier career victories. However, the fact that Farah had to fight tooth and nail just to get a silver medal against Chelimo and Kejelcha, athletes who had never beaten him before, suggests the quadruple Olympic champion was not quite at his best.

It’s worth noting, however, that Farah’s last 3000m of 7:45.14 was quicker than in his three previous World Championships victories.

The splits do not tell the whole story.

Obviously, the faster the earlier pace, the harder it is to hit the impressive numbers on the latter laps. Edris’ last 1000m has only been surpassed by Farah’s closing laps in 2015 but the Briton’s winning time of 13:50.38 then was the slowest on record and Edris went through 4000m around 20 seconds quicker.

What is not in doubt is that Edris’ finishing speed was very special and compares with the best in world championships history.

Unofficially, he took 26.2 for the last 200m, 52.6 for the last 400m, 80.3 for the last 600m (which is 1:47 800m pace), 2:21.04 for the last kilometre, sub-3:58 for the last 1600m and sub-5 for the last 2000m.

See below for how it compares with Farah’s previous three wins and Kenenisa Bekele’s victory which preceded Farah’s triple in 2017.

Last 200m
Bekele – 26.1 – 2009
Farah – 26.1 – 2011
Edris – 26.2 – 2017
Farah – 26.6 – 2015
Farah – 26.7 – 2013

Last 400m
Edris – 52.6 – 2017
Farah – 52.7 – 2015
Farah – 52.7 – 2011
Farah – 53.5 – 2013
Bekele – 53.8 – 2009

Last 1000m
Farah – 2:19.3 – 2015
Edris – 2:21.1 – 2017
Farah – 2:22.3 – 2013
Bekele – 2:24.9 – 2009
Arah – 2:28.4 – 2011

Last 2000m
Edris – 4:59.3 – 2017
Farah – 4:59.3 – 2013
Bekele – 5:02.5 – 2009
Farah – 5:03.4 – 2015
Farah – 5:10.2 – 2011

Last 3000m
Bekele – 7:43.0 – 2009
Edris – 7:44.51 – 2017
Farah – 7:48.4 – 2011
Farah – 7:48.7 – 2013
Farah – 7:49.6 – 2015

Farah’s 5000m championship record
2003 – European Under-23 – 2nd – 13:58.88
2005 – European Under-23 – 2nd – 14:10.96
2006 – Commonwealth – 9th – 13:40.53
2006 – European – 2nd – 13:44.79
2007 – World – 6th – 13:47.54
2008 – Olympics – 6th – heat – 13:50.95
2009 – World – 7th – 13:19.69
2010 – European – 1st – 13:31.18
2011 – World – 1st – 13:23.36
2012 – European – 1st – 13:29.91
2012 – Olympics – 1st – 13:41.66
2013 – World – 1st – 13:26.98
2014 – European – 1st – 14:05.82
2015 – World – 1st – 13:50.38
2016 – Olympics – 1st – 13:03.30
2017 – World – 2nd – 13:33.22

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