Flying in face of sense: Tired Farah comes fourth… but Britain set medals record
23:28 GMT, 11 March 2012
We said there was too much of this flying athletes in from around the world to represent Britain. In Mo Farah’s case, flying in and out and back again to his training base in the United States.
He’s no Plastic Brit, jetted in to make us look good in the medal table. He grew up in London. But exhausted from his travels and his high training mileage, he could not muster the medal, let alone the longed for gold, he sought here in the 3,000 metres final. After two appeals, of which more later, he was confirmed in fourth place.
It was his fellow travellers in the team — comprising the mercenaries, the homeless and the fickle —who contributed towards Britain’s best ever performance at a World Indoor Championships with nine medals, to eclipse the seven won in 2003.
Baton brilliance: (from left) Cox, Shakes-Drayton, Ohuruogu and Sanders
FROM OUT IN THE COLD TO GOLD:
At the end of her last year competing for America, Shana Cox (above left) was ranked No 9 in her country, unable to get in the team. After switching to Britain, she walked straight into the relay team and is now world indoor champion.
There is qualified cheering in this quarter: delight at the genuine British medals and pleasure that the question of who should represent the country has been debated so fervently in the last few days.
The greatest pity, leaving the nationality debate aside, was Farah’s. He has now not won any of his last three races. Little wonder, perhaps, given that only the other day he could not even count the number of times he has travelled from Oregon to compete and train in Europe and Kenya this year.
He is averaging 100 miles or more a week on the road under the direction of Alberto Salazar, his Cuban-born coach who uses every modern scientific quirk and harnesses it to a fierce work ethic.
Getting there first: Britain's Perri Shakes-Drayton crosses the line ahead of America's Sanya Richards-Ross
The winner of the 3,000m was again Bernard Lagat, formerly of Kenya. Now a ‘Plastic American’, he runs no more than 75 miles a week. The question is whether the miles Farah is accumulating will pay off, namely in the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m finals.
Asked if Farah was still the man to beat in London, Lagat said: ‘Absolutely. He will go from here with a lot of hunger.’
There was a brief respite for Farah when he was awarded third place instead of Kenyan Edwin Soi, who was disqualified for obstruction. His team appealed the punishment and won. Soi, with countryman Augustine Choge second, held on to third.
Yes, there was a tangle as Farah
approached the home straight but by then the small advantage he had
seized with three laps remaining had vanished. He dived for the line
one-hundredth of a second behind Soi, falling over in the process.
‘I was disappointed,’ said the usually affable Farah, who at first refused to speak to the press, post-race.
‘This is not an Olympic event but it’s a good learning curve. I’ve got to keep my head down and keep training twice as hard.’
Falling down: Mo Farah falls after crossing the line as United States' Bernard Lagat wins the gold
Flat out: Farah has a gruelling training schedule across the world
Is that really the answer Does he really think, as he claimed, he has not raced once too often this year
Farah apart, the British medals were rolling in. There was bronze and a new national record of 6.89m for long jumper Shara Proctor from Anguilla, where there is no Olympic association.
She, therefore, will represent Britain. Is that right I have no objection given it is a British territory, though we should note in passing she is based in Florida.
On the podium: Bronze medallist Shara Proctor poses after the long jump
We will also point out that her younger sister Shinelle competed for their homeland in the 60m. It’s all very confusing.
There was also a bronze medal for Holly Bleasdale, the 20-year-old pole vaulter, who cleared 4.70m. She is as cheery and down-to-earth a Lancashire lass as you could wish to find.
Andrew Osagie, born Harlow, Essex, came third in the 800m. No controversy there, just admiration for a running style as fluid as you could ever wish to see.
True Brit: Andrew Osagie came third in the 800m
So on to the women’s 4x400m relay. Shana Cox, born Brooklyn, USA, ran the first leg. She passed the baton to the bona-fide Brits, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohuruogu, born London, and on to Perri Shakes-Drayton, who held off America’s Sanya Richards-Ross to win gold.
And it was silver for the men’s team after America were reinstated in gold place after first being disqualified for ‘exchanging positions before takeover’.
Taking silver: Conrad Williams, Nigel Levine, Michael Bingham and Richard Buck celebrate coming second in the 4×400 relay
Conrad Williams, Nigel Levine, Michael Bingham and Richard Buck were our quartet.
It would be neglectful not to remind ourselves that Mr Bingham hails from North Carolina, USA.