Mo Farah to run 2019 London marathon but leaves door open for track return in Tokyo

• Farah admits he could target third 10,000m gold at Tokyo 2020
• ‘You do it any way you can get a medal. Our career is so short’

Mo Farah has admitted for the first time that he is tempted by an unprecedented third Olympic 10,000m gold medal in Tokyo – despite giving up the track for good last year.

The 35-year-old confirmed on Tuesday that he will run in next April’s London marathon and that running over 26.2 miles remains his priority for now. But he left the door open for a sensational return to 10,000m by saying his choice of event at the 2020 Olympics would be determined by which gave him the best chance of a medal.

“Yes, there is a chance,” said Farah, when pushed about the possibility of running the 10,000m in Tokyo. “You do it any way you can get a medal. Our career is so short. You wouldn’t turn anything down. I want to collect as many medals as I can and do it for my country.”

Farah, who has won two Olympic and three world titles over 10,000m, added: “I was honest and said I was done with the track but part of me missed it. I feel like I can still win medals and do as well as I have over the years.”

The athletes who have won two Olympic 10,000m titles reads like a who’s who of the best distance runners in history, starting with “the Flying Finn” Paavo Nurmi (1920 and 1928) and taking in Emil Zatopek (1948 and 1952), Lasse Viren (1972 and 1976), Haile Gebrselassie (1996 and 2000) and Kenenisa Bekele (2004 and 2008). Yet if Farah could win a third title he knows it would further cement his claims as one of the best of all time.

Farah said that he began to realise a return to the track was a possibility following speed work sessions with his coach, Gary Lough, before the Chicago marathon in October, which made him realise his devastating speed over 400m was still intact.

“I was putting in great sessions,” said Farah. “We had a little chat saying ‘mate, I’ve still got it’. And I still have. That’s the important thing.”

Farah also confirmed that the prospect of running the 10,000m at next year’s world championships in Doha – rather than the marathon – was also on the table.”It all depends,” he said. “If I come away from the London Marathon, win the London Marathon, beat some great fields, it might feel different. But it’s nice to have both options where I can still do the track and do the marathon. I’m still hungry.”

However Farah’s next challenge will be over 26.2 miles in London where he is hoping for a rematch with the world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge, who beat him into third place in last year’s race before setting an astonishing world record of 2:01:39 in Berlin in September.

“If you’re in a boxing match, who do you want to box?” asked Farah. “Mike Tyson or Anthony Joshua or whoever is easiest? You want to be able to take on the best. If it means taking on Eliud then I will do.”

But he admitted it would be tough to beat a man who has run more than three minutes faster than him. “I don’t think there’s anyone who can beat him at the minute,” he said. “He is far ahead of everyone else and his world record was incredible. But in order to learn and know what he does so well I need to race him more, learn to make mistakes, learn to win races.”

And while Farah believes he can run even faster than his European record of 2:05:11, set in Chicago, it is telling he isn’t convinced that he can run under 2:04 - which is some way behind Kipchoge’s best.

“I felt good in that race,” added Farah. “At the start, I was a bit stiff and I felt heavy towards the end but I was strong and I could have run faster. I believe I could run low 2:04. Maybe not under 2:04.” That is still deeply impressive, of course - but not so much that it emphatically slams the door on a track return.


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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