A shattering return.
After three years devoted to road racing, British athletics star Mo Farah celebrated his reunion with the track by setting himself the hour record (21.330 km) on Friday in Brussels.
The runner of Somali origin (37 years) thus erases from the tablets a legend of the middle distance, the Ethiopian Haile Gebreselassie, who had covered 21.285 km in 60 minutes, on June 27, 2007. In a King-Baudoin stadium closed to the public due to coronavirus, the quadruple Olympic champion (5,000 m and 10,000 m in 2012 and 2016) was not disturbed by the lack of atmosphere and has perfectly returned to the saddle on the tartan, he who is aiming for a new gold medal in 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Accompanied in particular by the Belgian Bashir Abdi, his training companion and 2nd European performer of all time in the marathon (2 h 4 min 49 in March in Tokyo), Farah fulfilled his mission, well launched by three hares and also guided by a lighting system allowing him to stay in the right tempo of the record.
Alone with Bashir at the halfway point, he finally let go of the Belgian in the last minute to claim the record.
“I'm very happy tonight, it's a great way to show people what's possible,” said Farah.
“On the other hand, I am very tired.
At one point, we didn't even know where we were with Bashir but we helped each other and we worked hard to achieve this record. "
The shadow of Salazar
The Briton thus brilliantly closes an open parenthesis at the end of 2017, a moment he had chosen to leave the stadiums to try his luck on the asphalt.
Despite some convincing results (victory in the Chicago marathon and 3rd place in the London marathon in 2018), he no doubt understood that it would be difficult for him to come and titillate King Eliud Kipchoge over the distance (42.195 km).
If he will be back on the road on October 4 in London, it will be only to play hares in the long-awaited duel between the Kenyan and the Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the two fastest marathoners in history.
Farah also has a reputation to defend after the four-year suspension imposed in 2019 on his former mentor, the American Alberto Salazar, for "incitement" to doping.
A case that has seriously tarnished its image.
Ironically, another ex-student of the sulphurous technician imitated the Briton in Brussels since Sifan Hassan seized the hour record for the ladies (18.930 km), owned since 2008 by the Ethiopian Dire Tune Arissi ( 18,517 km).
The Dutch (27), who marked the spirits at the Doha Worlds in 2019 with an unprecedented double 1,500m-10,000m, even had the luxury of dominating the Kenyan Brigid Kosgei, holder of the world record for the marathon ( 2h 14 min 4 sec).
“I didn't feel well before the start of the race, I even threw up,” she explained.
“But after thirty minutes, I finally felt better.
It was in the last twenty minutes that I gained the confidence I needed.
When there were only two minutes left on the clock, I just gave all I had left.
I am very happy.
With a few more weeks of altitude training in my legs I felt strong but this result is still a surprise. ”
In the record range, Armand Duplantis on the other hand failed to unbolt the mythical Sergei Bubka, still the highest pole vaulter in the open air (6.14 m in 1994).
Two days after his demonstration in Lausanne (6.07 m), the world record holder (6.18 m crossed on February 15 indoors) was stopped at 6 m, missing his three trials at 6.15 m.
Dutch Sifan Hassan breaks the women's hour record