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Mo Farah thrills home crowd with 5,000-meter gold

British runner Mo Farah's gold in the 5,000 meters, after winning the 10,000, cements his status as a national hero. Post-race push-ups didn't hurt either.

August 11, 2012|By Bill Shaikin

LONDON -- Mo Farah ran hard for almost 14 minutes, in a race so grueling that athletes exhaust all their energy just getting to the finish line.

Not this athlete, not this time. After Farah won the 5,000 meters on Saturday, giving Britain one last hometown gold in track and field, he absorbed the energy from an adoring crowd.

He dropped to the track and did push-ups. He rolled onto his back and did sit-ups. As the crowd roared, his American training partner chuckled.

"That's the first time I've seen him do abs in about two months," Galen Rupp said.

Farah cemented his status as a national hero by winning the 5,000 and 10,000 on British soil, becoming the seventh man to win gold in both events in the same Olympics.

Farah admitted afterward that his motivation Saturday extended beyond national pride. His wife is due to give birth to twin girls in 12 days.

"I didn't want to have one twin have a gold medal and the other one be left out," he said.

Farah, who trains in Oregon, was born in Somalia and raised in London. He is the first British runner to win the 5,000, and he single-handedly ensured that runners representing African nations did not win either the 5,000 or 10,000 meters for the first time since 1976.

The United States won both events in 1964. No American had won any medal in either event since until this year..

Farah won Saturday's race in 13 minutes 41.66 seconds, the slowest time to win gold since 1968.

Bernard Lagat, 37, the only runner in his 30s in the field and the top U.S. finisher, placed fourth in 13:42.99. He said his Olympic career was over.

Lagat twice competed for his native Kenya, winning bronze in 2000 and silver in 2004, each time in the 1,500 meters.

In 2008, running for the U.S., he did not qualify for the final in the 1,500. He finished ninth in the 5,000. That made his fourth-place finish bittersweet. He never did win a medal for his adopted country, but he found satisfaction in running well enough and long enough to become a four-time Olympian.

"I know it would have been better to be on the podium," Lagat said. "If I was third, I would be like, 'At least I did not go home empty-handed.' But it is actually the case. I am going home without a medal.

"So the fourth spot is always the worst one. But I look back and say I have been the most blessed person. It is not a bad career. I'm looking at what I've done up to where I am at the moment, and I feel like I am one of the blessed people."

Rupp, 26, finished seventh in 13:45.04. He won a surprise silver medal in the 10,000, and he is the best hope for American distance running.

With Lagat gone, Rupp said he needs home-grown competition if the U.S. is to end its gold drought in distance events.

"There has to be more than one person," he said. "It can't just be me. We need a lot of people running."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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