Friday 19 January 2018

Cragg fades as ace Farah strides to 5,000m gold


Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

OPERATION 'Fly-Mo' finally came to fruition last night when British distance darling Mo Farah took 5,000m gold at the World Championships.

Ireland's Alistair Cragg was up with the leaders until halfway, but a sudden injection of pace with six laps to go saw him swallowed up by the pack and he eventually finished 14th in 13:45.33.

Up front, Farah got his tactics right in the final, hectic dust-up to become the first non-African national to win the 1500m since Ireland's Eamon Coghlan took the inaugural title in 1983.

Farah was born in Somalia and moved to Britain as a refugee when he was 10. He had kicked marginally too early in the 10,000m final when he had to settle for silver, but he got it spot-on this time.

After a penultimate lap of 57 seconds, he kicked at the bell, but saved an extra spurt for the final 100m to record a blistering 52.7 seconds for the final lap.

As expected, former American 1500m champion Bernard Lagat came through like a train and Farah had to dig deep to win by just three-tenths of a second in 13:23.28.

Ethiopia's Imane Merga, who had been third in the 10,000m, got up to beat his team-mate Dejen Gebremsekel for third but was subsequently disqualified for stepping on the kerb and Gebremeskel was given the bronze.

Cragg, who has rediscovered his form since joining the Mammoth Track Club, did well to make the final considering he moved up this year to run marathons.

The Irish highlight in Daegu was undoubtedly the performance of Dubliner Deirdre Ryan (DSD), who finished sixth in the high jump. Having qualified for Saturday's top 12 final, Ryan had to open a lot higher than usual, but cleared 1.89m with her second jump.

She then popped over 1.93m -- a height that had been her Irish record until last Friday -- with her first attempt.

Not surprisingly, Ryan struggled at the next height (1.97m), but she still left deeply encouraged by her big 1.95m breakthrough in qualifying -- an effort that also earned a ticket to the London Olympics next year.

"It just goes to show what can happen if you hang in there," she said.

In contrast, there was heartbreak for Ireland's regular championship flagbearer, Derval O'Rourke, who had to pull out of Saturday's 100m hurdles semi-finals after sustaining a calf injury in her warm-up.


The Leevale star left it to right before the call-room (pre-race collection area) closed to make the difficult decision, revealing yesterday that she withdrew "because of the risk of aggravating the injury further".

There was also disappointment for Leitrim walker Colin Griffin (Ballinamore), who was disqualified in Saturday's 50km walk, picking up his third yellow card by the 20km mark in a race that saw 12 red-carded and only 25 of 43 starters finish.

Leevale's Ciaran O'Lionaird (23) became only the second Irishman to make the 1500m final, in which he finished 10th in 3:37.81 (his third fastest time) to mark himself out as a serious prospect for London 2012.

The Corkman was positioned well, but, on the final bend the race got away from him as Kenyan Asbel Kiprop went on to win.

"In the heat of the moment it's disappointing, but I'd be very greedy if I said I wasn't happy with the season overall," said O Lionaird.

Irish Independent

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