MO Farah made it six global distance titles in a row as he retained his 10,000m crown despite a last-lap stumble to win Britain’s first gold of the 2015 World Championships.
Seven years ago in this stadium in Beijing, Farah crashed out of the Olympics after failing to qualify from the heats of the 5,000m.
But the 32-year-old Olympic champion saw off the determined team effort of his three Kenyan challengers before producing a last lap of 54.15 seconds to come away from Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tanui in the home straight.
It is a familiar sight now with Farah, an athlete transformed from the undisciplined also-ran of 2008, but it was no less impressive: a last 800m in one min 56.01secs and a last mile of 4:06.6 to win in 27:01.13.
Kamworor took silver and Tanui bronze with Farah’s training partner Galen Rupp fading into fifth, the two Kenyans and team-mate Bedan Muchiri attempting to negate Farah’s fast finish by pushing the pace early on.
But in warm, sticky conditions – around 25C and 60 per cent humidity despite the race finishing after 10pm local time – Farah sat in behind his rivals as they produced a series of laps around 64 seconds and then kept closer order still as the pace dropped away in the heat.
The Briton went briefly to the front with four and a half laps to go and then again with 1200 metres left, before surging definitively with 500 metres to go, a lead he would never relinquish despite a trip as he overtook a lapped runner.
With a series of allegations made against his coach Alberto Salazar – there is no suggestion Farah has done anything wrong, and his American coach denies the claims – this has been a difficult summer for the man who won the 10,000m and 5,000m double at both the last Worlds in Moscow and the London 2012 Olympics.
But Farah, an uncomplicated man, has retreated into what he knows best: disciplined training, tactically perfect racing.
And with the 5,000m final in a week’s time, he has the chance to leave Beijing as arguably his nation’s greatest ever athlete.
Describing it as his toughest championship race, Farah said he knew his Kenyan and Ethiopian rivals would attempt to negate his kick finish by running quickly early.
“I knew the guys were going to do that, too many years now they’ve left it slow so they had to do it and it did happen,” the world champion said.
“It was a matter of digging in and hopefully it didn’t take too much out of me for the 5,000m. It’s not easy running 27 minutes in this heat.