Sun 16 March 2014
Photograph: Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Mo Farah insists that his preparations for next month’s London marathon remain on track despite reports that he was unconscious for three minutes after collapsing at the end of the New York City half-marathon.
Farah was given emergency medical treatment at the finish before being taken away in a wheelchair. Earlier he tripped up at the six-mile mark, losing time on the winner, Geoffrey Mutai, before finishing second. He blamed the effort of trying to catch up with Mutai and the sub-zero conditions in New York for his collapse. “I’m all right,” he said. “It’s fine. It’s not a big deal.”
You would expect Farah to display his best poker face after a defeat, and the fact he was not taken to hospital and was quickly willing to speak to reporters afterwards suggests that only his pride was hurt. But as a preparation for his first marathon in four weeks’ time, it could hardly have gone worse.
Farah was in about third place in a group of eight athletes when he was accidentally tripped. He forward rolled, senses understandably groggy, before slowly recovering his stride. But Mutai and his compatriot Stephen Sambu were already 25 metres clear, and quickly kicked on.
“I would have done exactly the same thing if I was him in the race,” Farah admitted.
Speaking about his fall, he said: “I’m not sure what happened. I just remember sort of falling down and just hitting the ground quite hard. I got caught on my hip, my ankle, the whole right-hand side. At that point, I just wanted to get back up and get with the group.”
Farah steadily closed the gap on Sambu before overtaking him with 800 metres remaining and finishing in 61min 7sec, just outside his British record of 60:59. But Mutai was long gone, winning the race in 60:50.
Still, it was no disgrace to lose to Mutai, who has six sub-60 minute half-marathon times and has the fastest marathon time in history in Boston in 2011. If Farah can reverse the placings when the pair meet again in London on 13 April he will surely be on the podium as a bare minimum.
On Sunday, though, Britain’s most brilliant track star was left seeing stars. “It did take quite a lot out of me,” admitted Farah. “My aim was to just close the gap slowly, but I couldn’t quite close the gap. And then the last four miles I struggled a bit.
“I was just pretty much seeing stars. Everything was kind of blurred to me. I just wanted to keep going. I didn’t want to stop and drop.
“I couldn’t quite get Mutai, but managed to get second place. I tried my hardest and gave 110%. That’s all you can do. Sometimes things happen out of your control and you’ve just got to move on.
“It doesn’t make you a bad athlete. The guys are pretty decent athletes. It’s not like Joe Blow or someone else who’s beaten you.”
Farah has been training in the heat of Iten in Kenya since early January; the penetrating freeze of New York suffering its severest winter in years came as a shock. Farah began the race in long sleeves, a hat and gloves but even he could not have prepared himself for what followed.
“Conditions today were very cold,” said Farah. “London’s going to be different, but I felt good to the point I went down. It would have been nice to come out here and win the race, but Mutai’s a strong athlete.”
Farah will return to Kenya on Tuesday to make his final preparations under his coach, Alberto Salazar, before flying to Britain to make his marathon debut. But he knows now, if he didn’t already, that competing on the road rather than track will be a very different beast.
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