Sports

London Marathon 2014: Winning would be better than the Olympics, says Mo Farah

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How do you surpass the two distance golds at London 2012 or the double double achieved at last year’s World Championships? For Mo Farah, victory in the London Marathon would trump both.

It would, he said, be the greatest achievement of an already illustrious career, and it is hard to find fault with the argument. It is not merely the magnitude of winning a debut marathon – a feat not even achieved by the great Haile Gebrselassie on the same course back in 2003 (he finished third) – but it is the fact that Farah will have to achieve it against the greatest marathon field ever assembled.

The only name really missing is Kenenisa Bekele who, perhaps wisely, recently opted for a less high-profile marathon in Paris for his debut, which he won.

All the rationale would suggest that victory tomorrow is beyond Farah. He lacks the experience of the elite field and is planning to be paced to 62min 15sec for the opening half of the race, 30 seconds behind the target time pacemaker Gebrselassie is planning for the leaders.

But then again Farah’s coach, Alberto Salazar, who has been virtually ever-present around his star athlete for the past month, is not so much obsessed with times as finishing places. Such priorities have clearly held Farah in good stead on the track and no stone has gone unturned in the build-up to the paved roads of London.

Steady pacing has been Farah’s mantra all week, a facet that worked for Tsegaye Kebede in the race a year ago when he came from a minute down to overtake Emmanuel Mutai for victory. So don’t be alarmed to see Farah well off the pace, at least initially – an unfamiliar sight for the British public – before he aims to up the tempo in the final six or seven kilometres.

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