For anyone who had the good fortune to witness Great Britain’s 'Super Saturday’ yesterday at Olympic Stadium, there will be no shortage of indelible moments to remember: from the capacity crowd of 80,000 strong who grew impossibly louder as the evening progressed to Jessica Ennis’s spectacular coronation as the world’s greatest female athlete. One of the most poignant will be the sincerely astonished looks of incredulity that overtook the face of Mo Farah when he realised that Olympic 10,000m gold was his.
"The crowd was getting louder and louder," Farah said of the race’s waning laps. "I had to work hard through the home straight and when I crossed the line I just thought, 'Did that really happen?'"
Happen it did to Farah, one of the London 2012 poster boys who has called the British capital home since moving here from war-ravaged Somalia with his family as an eight-year-old. It’s been home since he began his rise through the distance running ranks, first at the national level, then at the continental before finally leaving his mark on the global stage. And they don’t get any bigger than the stage he dominated last night.
"To win the Olympics where I grew up and went to school is amazing," Farah said after his emotional triumph. "It's an amazing feeling that hasn't quite sunk in yet. To have the Olympics on your doorstep and to become Olympic champion is amazing."
His was a patient run, as he preferred to linger in mid-pack through the first half of the race before making his way towards the front at the opening portion of the second. And he wasn’t alone, joined by training partner and friend Galen Rupp of the U.S. Together they fed off each other’s competitive ferocity to bring an Olympic 1-2 finish to coach Alberto Salazar.
"When I saw Tariku (Bekele, the eventual bronze medallist) at the front I thought, 'this is getting serious', so I just worked my way through. I was just trying to close the gap early on. We (he and Rupp) worked together and just tried to work our way through."
The pair, who have forged a close relationship since they began training together 18 months ago, worked together over the course of the race and were never far apart until they approached the final lap, when Farah took the lead and Rupp running fourth, with just brothers Tariku and Kenenisa Bekele separating them.
"In terms of tactics, we were always going to aim to work together, but in the last few laps it's every man for himself."
"I was conscious of where he was," Rupp said. "He is World champion so I had to know where he was. It's really comforting having a training partner in the race. He has been an unbelievable mentor for me, kind of like a big brother."
Big brother even made a brief appearance in the race when Rupp showed signs of losing patience.
"I was starting to get antsy and he tapped me on the shoulder and told me, 'play it cool and save everything for the final lap'.
"I owe a lot to him. I'm definitely the beneficiary of our relationship. There have been ups and downs and he has always been there for me. To be first and second with my training partner and one of my best friends, I couldn't be more thrilled."
That Farah was able to keep his cool is telling of his maturity as a champion, given the setting within which his race set off. Greg Rutherford had just won surprise gold, Ennis was circling the track on her lap of honour, Union Jack hoisted high. Decibel levels were off the proverbial charts.
"I saw Jessica carrying a flag and I knew she won gold and I thought, 'I want to win gold, too’. People were shouting my name, shouting 'Go Mo'."
"I was really buzzing, like if someone gave me ten cups of coffee, you know the feeling. I was just so pumped up."
So were his wife Tania and daughter Rhianna, who joined him on the track to share the moment and soak in the atmosphere. The latter however, wasn’t quite as comfortable as the centre of attention for a crowd of 80,000 screaming spectators.
"Having my family there was the best moment," Farah said. "Rhianna's shoes kept falling off so I told her to take her shoes off and do a lap with me, but she got scared because the crowd was so loud, so she didn't want to do it."
Rhianna’s shyness can certainly be forgiven. But if she can find some of her daddy’s 'cool’ over the next seven days, she might have another opportunity after the 5000m.