Mo Farah after winning the 5000m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report: men's 5000m final – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Mo Farah completed his second consecutive Olympic double by successfully defending his 5000m gold on Saturday, winning in 13:03.30.

Farah returned after winning the 10,000m almost exactly a week before, in the first stage of his double defence.

Before Farah, the 'double double' had only been successfully completed by Finland’s Lasse Viren, who memorably won both races in 1972 and 1976.

At first it appeared that the Ethiopian pair of Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet were going to attempt something similar to the Kenyan strategy from the 10,000m, and set a fast enough pace to run the sting out of Farah’s legs.

"(The plan) was to go fast and drop Mo Farah,” Gebrhiwet said. “My focus was on Farah.”

The pace they set wasn’t really quick enough for that, with Farah having a PB of 12:53.11. The pair exchanged the lead through kilometre splits of 2:37.40, 5:15.96, and 7:57.15 (the last the slowest of the race).

By then the field, which had initially strung out in a line, had begun to close up behind them, with Paul Chelimo of the USA and Albert Rop of Bahrain leading the chase of the leading pair.

Gebrhiwet explained: “In the first six laps we tried our best, but when we couldn't see any change, we held it back then.”

Farah began moving from his favoured position at the back up towards the front as the pace lagged, and took over not long after 3000m. The Briton led through the 4000m mark in 10:39.38 but didn’t start his drive for the finish for real until just before the bell, when Gebrhiwet made a bid for the lead.

Farah digs in

Farah wasn’t ready to give up the lead at that point and so, by the time they reached the backstretch, the race was on in earnest.

Farah and Gebrhiwet appeared evenly matched all the way to the homestretch and part way down it, but with 50 metres to go Farah picked up half a stride and from there it was as good as over.

"It's every athlete's dream but I can't believe it,” said Farah. "I wasn't going to let the inside lane go. I didn't want to get boxed in."

Behind him, though, hard-charging Chelimo picked off Gebrhiwet and moved through into the silver medal position in 13:03.90. Gebrhiwet took the bronze in 13:04.35.

"I'm happy with the medal,” said Gebrhiwet, “because four years ago in London I finished 11th."

Chelimo’s medal was the first Olympic medal for the USA in the men’s 5000m since 1964.

It almost didn’t happen, though, as initially Chelimo, Mo Ahmed of Canada (fourth in 13:05.94) and Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris were all disqualified under rule 163.3(b), which regards staying off the inside rail of the track.

After protests from the USA and Canada, Chelimo and Ahmed were reinstated.

Should the disqualifications have stood, bronze would have gone to 41-year-old Bernard Lagat, also of the USA, who was running in his fifth consecutive Olympic Games. As it was, Lagat finished fifth in 13:06.78 and became the oldest ever 5000m finalist, adding to his own statistic from London four years ago.

Gebremeskel, the silver medallist behind Farah in London, slipped back to 12th in 13:15.91 after doing much of the work in the lead early in the race.

Parker Morse for the IAAF