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Portland's the place for Mo Farah

 Great Britain's Mo Farah poses with the national flag after winning the Men's 5000 meter final at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, F...

Finland Athletics Europeans

Great Britain's Mo Farah poses with the national flag after winning the Men's 5000 meter final at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, F...

When it comes to running in the rain, there might be no better place for a Briton to prepare for the London Olympics than Portland, Oregon.
For Mo Farah, the Pacific Northwest of the United States is just as damp and cool as England _ and also hassle free. Perfect conditions for what he hopes will turn into double long-distance gold at the Olympics.
When he won his 5,000-meter gold at the European Championships in damp, overcast conditions and 16-degree (61 F) temperatures on Wednesday, he knew it may well be a lot like the weather in his hometown of London on Aug. 4, when the Olympic 10,000 is scheduled.
"It might rain there," Farah said. "But when it is raining and cold it is not too bad. ... I don't mind the rain as long as it is not too windy."
Farah gets plenty of practice in Portland, a place as identified with rain as much as England in summer.
During the Olympic month of August, it rains about 10 days a month, and it could have an impact on results. Being used to it could be a big factor.
If it were just the daily showers he needed, he might as well have stayed home. Coming to Portland, however, has fundamentally changed Farah as a runner, he said.
In his late 20s, a runner should be in the middle of a well-established career routine. But Farah wanted to make the leap from dominating Europe to being a top world contender, competing against the many great Kenyan and Ethiopian runners.
He picked former U.S. long-distance great Alberto Salazar as his coach and moved across the Atlantic, taking his whole family over.
"Over a year, a lot has changed," Farah said of the second major move in his life after he was brought to Britain from Somalia.
He established himself as a European star by winning the long-distance double at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, but his real global breakthrough came at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, last August, when he already was working with Salazar.
It looked like he'd be taking his first world title in the 10,000 when he put in his finishing kick on the final lap, only to be matched step for step by Ethiopian rival Ibrahim Jeilan, who just beat him at the line. Gold came in the 5,000 when he edged American favorite Bernard Lagat.
Now Britain sees in him a gold-medal contender at its home Olympics. The pressure has been piling on.
Portland offers a welcome escape.
"Head down and concentrating," Farah calls his preparations. "Rather than doing anything else, also in terms of media and everything else, I am on the other side of the world and concentrating on training.
"Eat, sleep, train."
And on top of the isolation, Farah gets top-notch facilities.
"They are so far ahead of other Europeans and everything else," he said. "We got a lot of facilities, underwater treadmill, all in terms of science, the ice bath" _ all high-technology gizmos that reduce the risk of injury and boost performance.
He also gets to train with American long distance runner Galen Rupp. And with Salazar, he has a coach who "knows what it takes," Farah said. Salazar won three straight New York City Marathons from 1980-1982.
All is centered now on London gold. Only hours after winning the 5,000 in Helsinki, he was on a morning flight to Barcelona and off into the French Pyrenees to train in the rarified air.
He will get another taste of London when he runs in the 5,000 at the Diamond League meet in his hometown on July 13. Then it is back to the French mountains for more speed building ahead of his 10,000 and, likely, the 5,000 on the last Olympic weekend.


Updated : 2021-04-21 11:19 GMT+08:00