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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Muktar Edris © Action Images

Another night of shocks in London

It seems there are to be no fairy tale endings at the London Stadium. Usain Bolt didn’t get his last 100m world championships gold, and in Britain’s Mo Farah’s last ever track race before switching focus to road running, the four-time Olympic champion was beaten by Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris.

At the age of just 23, this is a first major achievement at senior level. He won the world junior 5000m title in 2012 and had run the fastest time in the world this year (a 12:55.23 in Lausanne in July).

But few would have predicted he’d be the one to dethrone the great Farah – beaten for the first time on this London track where he famously doubled up to win 5000m and 10 000m gold at the Olympics five years ago.

Such was Farah’s dominance over the long distance track events, that the 34-year-old has won every outdoor title he’s gone for over 5000 and 10 000m since finishing with silver in 2011.

But Saturday night belonged to Edris as the Ethiopians worked together to make sure the title would be theirs. Farah finished with silver and American Paul Chelimo took bronze.

"I was highly prepared for this race and I knew I was going to beat Mo Farah,” said Edris afterwards. “After the 10km he was maybe tired so he did not have enough for the last kick. I was stronger.

"Mo has many victories but now I have one. I am the new champion for Ethiopia.”

Farah was gracious in defeat, saying: "Tactically, I was trying to cover every move. They had the game plan: one of them was going to sacrifice themselves. That's what they did tonight, and the better man won on the day. I gave it all, I didn't have a single bit left at the end.

Bronze medallist Chelimo added: "I think the Ethiopians had a plan because I think Kejelcha was out there to push the pace early and try and dampen Mo Farah's kick. Edris was just waiting and waiting to see and sitting by in the last 200m, so in the last 50m I thought 'there is no way I'm coming out without a medal here.'

"I had to fight and dig deep to get the bronze. To go home with a medal is not bad. I'm happy with this performance. It's my second championship and a medal.

“Mo is leaving, someone else has to take over now. I'm taking over next year and in 2019, I am after that gold,” added Chelimo.

These World Championships have certainly thrown up some surprises and Farah’s failure to secure a second gold after his 10 000m victory means no athletes, including SA’s own Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya, have been successful in their bid for double gold in individual events so far.

Edris’ win elevated Ethiopia to fourth on the medal table behind USA, Kenya and Poland, with South Africa currently in fifth place.

The final day of the World Championships on Sunday will provide South Africa with the chance to add to their record medal haul with Caster Semenya gunning for gold in the 800m final at 9.10pm SA time.

The only other South African in action will be Lebogang Shange in the 20km walk, which gets under way 3.20pm.


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