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Monday, 21 August 2017 09:41

DIAMOND LEAGUE: MO FARAH HANDS THE GB RESPONSIBILITY TO ANDY BUTCHART

Written by Connor Craig-Jackson
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It was the ever familiar sight that we will never see in Britain again. Mo Farah for the umpteenth time almost effortlessly switching on the gas in the home straight to leave those hoping to scupper his British farewell mercilessly in his wake.

But as he crossed the line with his vintage Mo-bot pose and prepared to soak in the adulation of the Birmingham crowd, there was still one small, yet large task left to do, as his British team-mate and competitor Andy Butchart joined him after the race.

The Great Britain international vest that was being worn by Farah for the last time, now lay in the hands of the 25-year-old Scot, now symbolising him as the new leading light in British long distance running that Farah has carried for the last six years.

While Butchart hasn’t been on the international scene for too long, he has certainly launched himself firmly in the mix during his so far short career, which the now-marathon running Farah is certain will reach bigger heights.

“That was my message to Andy,” said Farah, “in terms of ‘this is me done, take over from me and just inspire them, see what hard work is about and what it takes to be a champion’.

“For me I gave it to him because he’s got great attitude, he’s a great athlete, he always gives it 110 per cent and has been learning over the years so he’s a good guy.”

But the main focus of course was all on Farah and closing the door on one of if not the most iconic British track career so far that has contained almost everything.

From happiness to heartache and also controversy, it is a career that has never dimmed and despite all the ups and downs, is one that contains zero regret for the multiple Olympic and World champion.

“All I ever wanted to do as an athlete was run for Great Britain,” said Farah, “I remember when I won the mini marathon as a kid I got interviewed and they asked me what I wanted to do and I just said ‘I want to run for Great Britain’.

“Now it’s finally done I won’t be competing for Britain and in terms of major championships and I won’t be taking part. It feels a bit sad and I think I’ll probably feel it more when I see it on TV and see the athletes I train with and people I’ve been in the circuit with. But at the same time it’s been an honour and I wouldn’t change any part of my career and what I’ve done.”

Naturally, the 34-year-old’s victory in Birmingham was just one of more farewells to come when he races at the Zurich Diamond League and the Great North Run. With his illustrious track career, much like the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films, needing multiple endings to fully draw it to a satisfying close.

Also like the 17 time Oscar winning trilogy, his next big plunge into the world of Marathon running will simply be a long and thrilling new adventure done purely for his own enjoyment, despite some speculating that he may be back in a GB vest when the Tokyo Olympics approach in 2020.

“Going into the marathon I feel like there’s not much pressure really,” he said, “it’s just the pressure I put on myself so I want to go there not having a target on my back. Obviously I like to run well and I will give it what it takes, but at the same time it’s more chilled and relaxed.

“If I can come into the marathon and be best and can compete then it depends (if he goes to Tokyo), but I think it is going to take at least two or three marathons to get it right to learn from it so it’s not easy."

But whether he does once again pull on the Great Britain vest and whether he does it with the name ‘Mo’ or ‘Mohamed’, the legacy of Sir Farah could be set to continue as the new generation that he inspired over the years begins to come into full fruition and for now remains in safe hands.




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