Mohamed Farah didn’t win as many medals as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, but he was surely the great hero of the Olympics, at least to his British countrymen. He did what only four had done before him: win both the 10,000 meters and the 5,000, two races that along with the marathon, take the greatest toll on the human body.
It was thrilling to watch Farah move from the rear of the pack to the front, a third of the way through, then hold the lead as one challenger after another made a run at him.
But the most thrilling thing of all was to hear the crowd of 80,000, mostly Britons, screaming without letup, for the final ten minutes of the 13+ minute race. In a country whose reputation has been sullied by some vicious anti-Muslim sentiments and actions, here was the entire stadium yelling themselves hoarse for an observant Muslim who immigrated from Somalia when he was eight.
The roars didn’t let up when, just after crossing the finish line Farah prostrated himself in the ritual sajdah on the track facing Mecca. Nor did they diminish when he wrapped the Union Jack around his shoulders and took a victory lap around the track.
Hooray for Farah, hooray for Great Britain, and a last hooray for the London Olympics.
Inspiration: Al Michaels, NBC; and Esther Addley, UK Guardian