Adam Alexander witnesses the final race of Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah at Birmingham…
The sun was shining at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium. There were various events underway around the main track: women’s pole vaulting, men’s long jump and shot putt to name a few.
Just as we settled into the much underestimated sport of spectating, there was a wave of hush around the stadium and a white convertible Bentley entered with Sir Mo Farah perched on the rear seats in an all-white tracksuit. Arms opened wide and occasionally posing with the now infamous Mo Bot, the crowd reacted and cheers rose to drown out any commentary. The man is very comfortable and gives the supporters what they want.
We watched the final of the men’s high jump, which was not without some outstanding performances. Our own Tom Gale performed a personal best, but was overshadowed by Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar’s performance.
With all other competitors finished at 2.37, Barshim moved on to the 2.38, struggled a little but opted for an unusual shift to 2.4m. With the crowd behind him, clapping and then pausing as he launched up into the air we collectively held our breath as he sailed over the bar with ease and landed to huge roar. It was at this point he picked up the bar and announced he was done and walked off with it tucked under one arm.
The men’s track races finished with the men’s 3000m final. The competitors proceeded out in single file, warming up with a few up and downs at the back straight, then lined up at the starting line. Such was the support for Mo and Andy Butchart, that the starting of this race was held up as per the words of one official –‘ can the crowd please observe some silence as we can’t hear the starting instructions’. Guilty as charged.
The gun fired and they were off. A good pace was set by the two Kenyan pacers Kibet and Birgen, where Mo and Butchart sat comfortably in the rear pack for the first 4 laps. The onlookers are now used to this Mo-tactic and so reacted with mediocre sound levels. Laps five & six saw the surge from the back by Mo and Butchart then taking lead positons one and two respectively. The crowd were on their feet, we were shouting ourselves hoarse. There’s no doubt between us, this final UK track event for Mo will be a golden one. With the roar and chant turned up beyond 11 Sir Mo once again showed he had the magic with a victory time of 7:38.65.
What a fitting send off from a man who has given so much to British Athetics, who promises to continue to support and give something back in years to come. What a great honour to have witness this man through the years and to hear so many young Athletes and children in the crowd speak of his inspiration.