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Moscow, August 10, 2013 -- At the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea, Mo Farah was beaten in a last-lap sprint by Ethiopia's Ibrahim Jeilan, a man Farah later said he had never heard of but would never forget.
Tonight, here in Luzhniki Stadium, Farah once again had to overcome a serious challenge by Jeilan who forced the double Olympic champion to be at his absolute best in order to win his first world 10,000m title. Farah, 30, managed to just hold off Jeilan in the final 200 meters to get the win in 27:21.71, 52/100ths of a second ahead of the reigning champion.
"It was very exiting," Farah told reporters of the finish. "I remember two years ago when exactly the same thing happened. This time, I knew Jeilan was capable, so it was important to have something left."
Like most major championships, the race came down to the final kilometer. The pace was steady and (by these standards) slow, averaging about 2:45 per kilometer. Farah spent most of the race in the pack slowly moving up to avoid trouble. After a halfway split of 13:49.95, Farah was in seventh position with ten laps to go while Kenya's Paul Tanui accepted the leading duties. Farah was comfortable where he was.
"The reason I sent to the back I knew the Ethiopian guys had four guys and the Kenyan guys were going to take up the pace and make it hard," Farah explained. "My aim was to save as much energy as I can."
It wasn't until the 9000-meter mark that the race became interesting. Dathan Ritzenhein, one of Farah's training partners under coach Alberto Salazar, took to the lead with a surprise surge.
"I guess the biggest thing is, I don't know, this could be my last time in the big stadium on the track," Ritzenhein told reporters. He continued: "I guess I wanted to be in the front of the World Championships at some point."
Ritzenhein's move ultimately led to a typical two-lap wind-up for Farah who first went to the lead with four laps to go. With 800 meters remaining and Tanui and Jeilan breathing down his neck, Farah got serious. He clocked the penultimate lap in 60.6 seconds, but really dropped the hammer for the last circuit where he was clearly sprinting flat out in the final 200 meters to hold of Jeilan and Tanui who was close behind. He turned the last lap in 55.5 seconds to put the race away.
"Two hundred meters again I could see he was making his move, trying on the outside," Farah said of Jeilan. "He was right there and I was thinking that, 'not again, not again, not again,' and had just that little bit more. It was definitely worth it."
Tanui held on for third and Farah credited him for doing much of the leading.
"This guy here," Farah said pointing at Tanui in the post-race press conference, "I'm glad he got a medal. He pushed and pushed."
Galen Rupp, Farah's primary training partner and the reigning Olympic silver medalist, had been close to the front in the final laps, running in third place with 800m to go. But the former NCAA champion for the University of Oregon didn't quite have enough in the final two laps to finish on the podium, getting fourth instead. Although his was the highest-ever finish by an American man in a world 10,000m final, Rupp was clearly disappointed.
"I was right there where I needed to be," Rupp told reporters. "I just didn't quite have it the last 200."
Ritzenhein finished tenth, giving coach Salazar three men in the top-10.
Both Farah and Rupp will double back for the first round of the 5000m on Tuesday.
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