LONDON – Mo Farah will lead Britain’s bid for World Championships glory as the star of one of the strongest teams ever to represent the United Kingdom, according to UK Athletics performance director Neil Black.
Farah will start his World Championship campaign in Moscow on Saturday by trying to win the 10,000 meters title that eluded him in Daegu two years ago when he was beaten by Ethiopian’s Ibrahim Jeilan in a tense sprint finish.
Farah will then return to the Luzhniki Stadium, scene of the 1980 Olympic triumphs of legendary Britons Allan Wells, Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Daley Thompson, to defend his world 5,000m title.
If he were to win both, repeating his epic 5,000m and 10,000m double at last year’s Olympics, it would etch Farah’s name in the pantheon of long-distance running legends.
Farah’s status as Britain’s greatest distance runner was cemented when he claimed his two titles in the Olympic Stadium last year, but another double in Moscow would make him only the second man in history, after Kenenisa Bekele, to hold Olympic and world crowns in the 5,000m and 10,000m at the same time.
Black believes Farah’s history bid could be the crowning glory for a British team he rates as even stronger than the group that enjoyed so much success at the London Games 12 months ago.
“We are without question, genuinely, in a better position going into the world championships than we were before London 2012,” Black said.
“We are better prepared. We are more focused. And we are even more excited in the potential that will come from this competition.
“The sense of keenness is greater. As is the overall focus and preparation. People have learnt from some of the mistakes they have made.”
Black believes some British athletes have structured their season better to ensure they peak at Moscow.
“To our surprise one of the things we learnt from last year was that there were a few people who didn’t have that real focus, that real preparation, that real planning for the Olympics,” Black said.
“There were also a number of athletes who were in transition in terms of changes in their lives.
“But we’ve learnt from those things and I don’t think there are similar reasons why people may not perform this year.”
As well as the indomitable Farah, Christine Ohuruogu, who will captain the British team in Moscow, is another athlete Black has high hopes for.
“Without question she is a gold medal contender,” he said. “She’s outstanding.
“Her rivals are genuinely frightened of her. They know she runs incredibly well over three rounds. She’s proved time and again that she peaks at the majors.”
Black is unconcerned about how James Dasaolu, the 100m sprinter who advertised his potential by running a time of 9.91 seconds in the UK trials before pulling out of the final with cramp and also the Anniversary Games at the last minute, will cope with running three rounds in Moscow.
“The circumstances around a couple of the recent withdrawals are things we are dealing with,” he said. “James is going to be raring to go on the start line.”
Black was more cautious about Dai Greene, who won gold in the 400m hurdles at the Daegu world championships in 2011 but has struggled with injury of late.
According to Black, other “genuine competitors for medals” including Perri Shakes-Drayton in the women’s 400m hurdles, Tiffany Porter in the 100m hurdles, Shara Proctor in the long jump and both the men’s 4x100m relay and women’s 4x400m relay teams.
The only major frustration for Team GB is the absence of Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, who was forced to withdraw due to an Achilles injury.