International Athletics

Farah one of the greats - Coe

2015-08-31 10:44
Mo Farah (Getty Images)

Beijing - New athletics boss Sebastian Coe believes fellow Briton Mo Farah deserves to be regarded as one of the greatest athletes ever after his world championships double.

Farah became the first man to pull off a "triple-double" of distance titles at consecutive world championships and the London Olympics after winning 5,000 and 10,000 metres gold in Beijing over the past week.

"It's a wonderful debate to be having and I'm delighted to be not too British at these moments," the newly elected IAAF president said on Sunday's final day of competition.

"Mo is a wonderful, wonderful athlete, his progress through the ranks has been spectacular," added Coe, who won 1,500 metres gold at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.

"If you look at the medals he's won in major championships you would be hard pressed to say he wasn't the most successful distance runner, in terms of medals."

Ever the politician, Coe stopped short of calling Farah the best ever, smiling: "I'll leave the greatest ever tag to other athletes."

Striking a more serious note, Coe expressed sympathy with the plight of Somali-born Farah, whose Beijing preparations were disrupted by doping allegations made against his coach Alberto Salazar.

"I've watched his progress from the junior ranks and actually awarded him medals when he was a junior athlete," he said.

"This is part of the challenge we have."

Coe's first task will be to clean up athletics, which was rocked by explosive allegations by British and German media of widespread doping in the build-up to Beijing.

"I remember breaking the world record back in 1981 and I was dubbed an 'overnight sensation' by most people on that night," he said. "I had to gently remind them that actually it had taken me 10 years to get to that position since joining my first athletics club.

"So we have to be very careful when we start making assumptions about quality," he added.

"Unpredictable performance is often in the largest part down to innate ability, hard work and probably somewhere in the locker about 10 years of road mileage, thousands of tonnes of steel in the gym and people who have given up a large part of their lives to help you.

"It is sadly slightly the kind of territory that we have inherited, and one of my responsibilities is to move the sport off that territory. We are more than a discussion about test tubes, blood and urine."


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