Frustrated by his results in 2016, Farah hopes to use Anniversary Games to launch into Rio Olympic defence
Mo Farah says he’s looking to build on what has so far by his standards been an “average” season at the Müller Anniversary Games tomorrow (July 23) in the same stadium where he achieved his crowning glory at the 2012 Olympics.
The defending world and Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion kicked off his 2016 with a rare outing on the mud at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country International, losing out to American specialist Garrett Heath, and continued into his first IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff with a third-placed finish behind Kenyan duo Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki.
“At the beginning of the season the half-marathon was really disappointing, let’s be honest,” the 33-year-old said reflecting on his 2016 record. “I haven’t been satisfied. Birmingham was okay when I broke the British 3000m record. That’s probably the one which was okay. The rest have been average. In myself I know I can do better but it’s life. That’s where it’s at. I just have to get it right in Rio.”
On returning to compete in London, he said: “It’s nice to be back. I love London. It’s my hometown. It’s very exciting. Yesterday was the first time for a little while I walked to the stadium. I walked in and I got nervous. This is where it happened. My life changed in London when I became Olympic champion.”
A 3:31.74 fifth-placed finish over his less fancied distance in the 1500m in Monaco last week, beating world champion and hot favourite for Rio gold Asbel Kiprop on the way, placed him seventh in the world for the distance in 2016 and showed while he may not have reached the heights of previous years he’s still in good condition.
Tomorrow night’s 5000m presents Farah with a final opportunity to produce a performance suitable for his standards ahead of his 10,000m opener in Rio in just 22 days time. He faces a strong field containing Kenya’s Isaiah Koech, likely to be one of the biggest threats to Farah over the distance in Rio, but the five-time world champion says he’s heading into London with one goal in mind.
“If I didn’t win it I would be disappointed. There are a lot of guys out there I’m going to be racing in the Olympics. I just respect the field and see how I’m going to win it,” he said about the race.
“It would be nice to win the race. The most important thing is to respect the guys, respect the race and see what I can come away with. In the past I’ve always gone out and done well in my last race [before a major championship]. We’ve still got a little bit to work on before Rio to sharpen and get a few more key sessions under my belt.”
Farah’s likely contenders for the 10,000m gold have already begun the trash-talking, with Karoki and Paul Tanui expressing confidence that they can get the better of the Brit 12 months after a Kenyan-led plot in Beijing failed in its attempt to bring home the gold.
The Brit has brushed off challenges from Kenyans at each of the last three major championships and he threw down the gauntlet to his challengers in Rio.
“Bring it,” Farah added. “It’s going to be hard. I’ll do everything I can and give it 110% and see what I can come away with. They aren’t going to make it easy for me. They didn’t make it easy for me in Cardiff and they won’t make it easy in Rio.”