Not many of the greats get to bow out on their own terms at the very top. For every decorated athlete who completes their track career standing on the top of the podium, there are plenty more who find themselves back in the pack, unable to extend their winning streak by one more victory.
Mo Farah heads to London planning to put himself firmly in the first of those categories.
Since crossing the line second in the 10,000m at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, the 34-year-old has won every outdoor title he’s contested over 5000m and 10,000m, a run of victories that has seen him secure a reputation as one of the greatest endurance runners of all time.
And in each of the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, that has meant doubling up over the two longest track championship distances. 2017 will be no different.
The 5000m, as is usually the case, is scheduled after the 10,000m, on the second Saturday, and yet again Farah will be hoping to take his second gold medal of the week.
He has raced sparingly outdoors this year, taking victories over 3000m in Kingston and London and over 5000m in Eugene and 10,000m in Ostrava, but his record and his form suggest that he is still the man to beat.
But Kenya and Ethiopia both have proud histories in the event at World Championships and their athletes are likely to contend for medals yet again.
Ethiopia’s line up is formidable, featuring Muktar Edris, Yomif Kejelcha, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Selemon Barega. Each has a strong case to suggest that they will be Farah’s closest challenger.
Gebrhiwet has the pedigree, securing his place in London as the 2016 Diamond Trophy winner and having won medals at both the 2013 and 2015 World Championships and the Rio Olympic Games.
Edris, the 2012 world U20 champion, ran the fastest time in the world this year in July, clocking 12:55.23 in Lausanne in July, while the 17-year-old Barega placed second in that race, less than a second behind.
Kejelcha, meanwhile, finished runner up to Farah in Eugene, having won the world indoor 3000m title last year.
Seven of the eight world titles won between 1991, when Yobes Ondieki took gold in Tokyo, and 2005, when Benjamin Limo took the honours, went to Kenyan competitors, although Helsinki was the last time a Kenyan could call himself world 5000m champion. This year, Cyrus Rutto and Davis Kiplangat are the hopefuls looking to take the gold back to Kenya for the first time in more than a decade.
The 25-year-old Rutto is the national champion, although his results since that race have been far from spectacular, placing 14th in Paris over 3000m and 11th in Lausanne over 5000m. Kiplangat, just 19 years old, was the African U20 silver medallist in 2015 and took second at the IAAF World Youth Championships that same year.
Paul Chelimo of the USA was closest to Farah in Rio and again starts in London looking to improve on his Olympic silver, while Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei and Bahrain’s Albert Rop may also feature.
Dean Hardman for the IAAF