Now Mo Farah has a world championship gold medal in the 10,000 to go with his Olympic title.
In a tantalizing finish, Farah had to fight off defending champion Ibrahim Jeilan over the last 150 meters. But instead of giving in at the line like he did two years ago, his finishing speed was such that he had time to cover his face with his hands and cross the line with his arms wide open.
Farah now has to defend his 5,000 title next Friday and, at 30, establish himself as the defining long-distance racer of his time with another long-distance double.
Farah had been honing his finishing kick all season, and when he became the fastest European of all time over 1,500 meters last month, he knew he was a world beater.
So did all of Britain, convinced he could do as well as his double at the London Olympics, and the relief of living up to expectations was visible as soon as he crossed the line.
The relief was all the more so since he almost tripped when he briefly surged into the lead with about four laps to go.
He kissed the Mondo blue track and fell on his back looking up at a sky over the Luzhniki Stadium which was just as perfectly blue.
Temperatures were close to 27 degrees C (81 degrees F) when Farah ran, but it was even higher when defending champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya won the first gold medal of the world championships with a blazing late kick on a scorching afternoon.
Like the morning qualifying session, few fans were on hand to cheer as Kiplagat entered the stadium well ahead of surprise silver-medalist Valeria Straneo of Italy, also a mother in her 30s.
As the marathoners made their way up to Red Square, there were huge empty spaces where fans should have been.
Saturday’s opening amid near-empty stands left it to Usain Bolt to set the nine-day event alight Saturday night when he opens his campaign for three sprint gold medals.
Gunnar Nixon already set the decathlon ablaze as the 20-year-old American competing in his first major global event took a big lead over Olympic champion Ashton Eaton after four of 10 events.
The world junior champion made his big move by clearing 2.14 meters in the high jump while Eaton failed to go higher than 1.93.
“So far, he’s on fire. I hope he keeps it up,” said defending champion Trey Hardee, who failed to clear any height when cramps affected his jumping and later pulled out.
Nixon has 3,611 points overall, with Michael Schrader of Germany in second with 3,501 and Eaton is third with 3,495.
But Saturday’s highlight may be Bolt, who will be seeking to recapture the gold he won in world record time in Berlin four years ago and then relinquished when he false-started in the 2011 final in Daegu, South Korea.
Looking around him, he will know he is the overwhelming favorite in the absence of injured defending champion Yohan Blake and American star Tyson Gay, who is out because of a doping scandal.
Bolt will be looking to add the 200 and the 4x100 relay title to make it a golden triple one year after a similar feat at the London Olympics.
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