Distance-running star Mo Farah marked his first appearance on a home track in more than 12 months by smashing Steve Ovett’s 36-year-old British record for the rarely run 2 mile race at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham on Sunday.
The Olympic, world and European champion at 5,000m and 10,000m, Farah won in a time of 8 minutes, 7.85 seconds as he comfortably surpassed the 8 minutes, 13.51 seconds mark set by Ovett, the 1980 Olympic 800m champion.
“Early on I felt a bit tired and then as I got into it I just felt better and better,” Farah said. “I kept looking at the clock and thinking: ‘I can do it, I can do it.’”
Farah won the 5,000m and 10,000m at the European Championships in Zurich, Switzerland, earlier this month, having started the season with an unconvincing marathon debut in London and then suffering a shock health scare that ruled him out of the Commonwealth Games.
However, with next month’s Great North Run in Gateshead, northeast England, set to be his final race of the season before he begins preparations for next year’s World Championships in Beijing, Farah reflected on a roller-coaster campaign.
“When you’re at the top it’s harder. When you go through a struggle you are more determined, you want it more,” he said. “Sometimes getting beaten or getting ill makes you want it more.”
Farah collapsed after finishing second in the New York half marathon in March, was a disappointing eighth in the London marathon the following month and missed the Commonwealth Games after having to be airlifted to hospital amid concerns over his heart.
Meanwhile, there was more home success as Lynsey Sharp reversed the placings at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games by beating Kenya’s world champion Eunice Sum to win the 800m in 1 minute, 59:14 seconds.
Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada won the men’s 400m in 44.59 seconds, with Britain’s European champion Martyn Rooney third.
Another London 2012 champion, Kenya’s David Rudisha, won the rarely run 600m, having taken the 800m Olympic gold two years ago.
In the women’s 400m, Britain’s world champion Christine Ohuruogu won in 51.40 seconds, while Commonwealth gold medalist Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica was first home in the women’s 400m hurdles.