Mo Farah

Mo Farah on sub-2-hour marathon, athletes changing countries, Usain Bolt race

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British distance-running great Mo Farah made headlines two weeks ago when he said he was “considering the feasibility” of a marathon being run in under two hours.

That didn’t mean Farah thought he could be the first sub-two man. Far from it.

“For me to say I can run under two hours is ridiculous,” Farah, the Olympic and world champion in the 5000m and 10,000m told the BBC. “My goals are to run the London Marathon and do the best that I can.”

The marathon world record is 2 hours, three minutes and 23 seconds, set by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang at the Berlin Marathon last month. The previous mark was also set in Berlin, Patrick Makau‘s 2:03:38 in 2011.

Kenyan Dennis Kimetto flirted with the world record at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, winning in 2:03:45.

Farah plans to make his 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 13. He told the BBC his time goal is to get close to the British record of 2:07.13 set by Steve Jones of Wales in Chicago in 1985.

“I think in years to come (sub-two hours) is doable, but not in the first marathon,” Farah said.

Farah was also asked about England soccer player Jack Wilshere‘s comments about athletes’ nationalities.

“The only people who should play for England are English people,” Wilshere said last week. “If you live in England for five years it doesn’t make you English. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I am not going to play for Spain.”

Farah was born in Somalia to a British father and moved to England at age 8. He trains in Oregon but has always competed for Great Britain.

“There’s people out there who switch nationality,” Farah told the BBC. “There’s Kenyan guys who last year or two years ago were running for Kenya and then they switched to Qatar and Bahrain and other countries. Yes I do have a problem with that.”

One of Farah’s 5000m rivals, Bernard Lagat, competed for Kenya at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and then the U.S. at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Farah also told Sky Sports he has yet to decide if he will compete at the Commonwealth Games in July and August. That’s a slight departure from a Telegraph report last week that Farah wanted to compete in both the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships, but probably just one event in both.

“I don’t even know if I’m going to do it, the Commonwealths or the Europeans,” Farah told Sky Sports. “It all depends how I come off the marathon, it’s totally different from the track.”

Farah also addressed the potential charity race between him and Usain Bolt.

“I don’t know, we’re still working on that,” he told Sky Sports. “Hopefully it will happen at some point. It would be good for charity but I don’t know if it will happen in one year, two years or whenever.

“It’s just something I said out of the blue – ‘it would be great to do it for charity!’ And now it’s gone worldwide.”

Farah’s training fist fight on Christmas

Russian who beat Simone Biles at 2015 Worlds injured before Olympics

Maria Paseka
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Russian Maria Paseka, who beat Simone Biles on vault at the 2015 World Championships, is not certain to compete in the Olympics due to a back injury, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Biles is considered a clear favorite for four gold medals — not done by a female gymnast since Romanian Ecaterina Szabo in 1984 — and could win five golds — never done by an American woman or a female gymnast.

Biles captured gold medals at the last two World Championships in the team event, all-around, balance beam and floor exercise.

Vault is her fifth and most questionable event. Biles took silver, silver and bronze on vault at the last three world championships.

Paseka is the only returning vault medalist from the 2012 Olympics (she took bronze) in addition to being the reigning world champion.

Regardless of Paseka, Biles’ primary competition in the vault final may be the 2008 Olympic champion, North Korea’s Hong Un-Jong, who could not compete in London due to North Korea’s ban for age falsification.

Like Biles, Hong earned vault medals at the last three world championships, including gold in 2014.

Biles’ vaults at worlds were less difficult than Paseka and Hong, causing her to lose eight tenths in start value. Biles has since upgraded her weaker vault, increasing her start value.

MORE: Rio Olympic schedule highlights, daily events to watch

Vladimir Putin: Olympic medals to have ‘different or no taste’ without Russia

Vladimir Putin
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Russian president Vladimir Putin said Olympic medals won in events lacking Russian contenders will be devalued, speaking to athletes who will be going to Rio at the Kremlin on Wednesday.

Russia is set to send just one track and field athlete, plus fewer athletes in many sports, to Rio amid its doping scandal.

It could significantly alter the Rio Olympic medal standings, as Russia finished third in overall medals at the 2012 London Games with 79 — behind the U.S.’ 103 and China’s 88.

“It is obvious that the absence of Russian athletes, the leaders in many sports events, significantly reduces the intensity of the competition, and hence makes the upcoming events less spectacular” Putin told the Russian team Wednesday, according to Russian news agency TASS. “I think that your colleagues from other world’s leading sports powers also understand that the quality of their medals will be different, because it’s one thing to defeat an equal, strong opponent, and quite another – to compete with obviously weaker opponents. Such victory has a very different taste or maybe bad taste.”

Also at the event, two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva broke down while addressing the Olympic team (video here). Isinbayeva was barred from the Rio Games due to Russia’s track and field ban, though she has never failed a drug test.

MORE: Five Russian track and field stars set to miss Rio