Mo Farah could be back on the track this time next year, with coach Gary Lough and the British distance runner both fuelling rumours of a return at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
“I think he will sit down with a few of us and look at his general plan for next year,” Lough said earlier this month. “He really wants to run the World Championships [in Doha, Qatar in 2019], but what he runs at the World Championships has not been decided.”
“I’m lucky to have had a long career in my life,” Farah then told an audience at the Royal Stag Barrel Select Perfect Strokes event in New Delhi at the weekend. “I won so many medals on the track and there was a part of me, in terms of an athlete, where you go through and you don’t really appreciate it because you have been there and done it.
“You have to have that drive and part of me was like, I want to wake up in the morning and think ‘oh yeah, this is great’. I decided I don’t think I can do it any more, let me take a break and go to the road. Now I’ve gone to the road and got a taste of the marathon.
“Part of me does miss the track, so I’m not sure because we’ve got the World Championships in Doha in 2019. A part of me does miss the track, so it just depends on what my coach says.”
Farah announced his move to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships, in which he won the gold medal in the 10,000 metres and the silver in the 5,000. He won two more Diamond League track events before making the switch at the start of this year, by which time Lough had been appointed as his new coach following a split with Alberto Salazar.
Farah’s transition to the road was aided by victory in the first ever London Big Half Marathon, which the 5ft 9in runner used as preparation for the main event in his hometown. He finished third in that race – the London Marathon – with a time of 2:06:22, which may have been inferior to Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Tola Shura Kitata but was still quicker than any other British athlete in history. The 35-year-old performed even better at the Chicago Marathon, winning the race and setting a new European record of 2:05:11 in the process.
The question now is whether or not Farah’s appetite for the marathon has been sated. Perhaps that triumph will be enough for him and perhaps a year away from the track has helped him rediscover his enthusiasm for the 5,000 and 10,000 metre events; equally, though, the Brit’s victory in Chicago may leave him wanting more – he may even have the world record of 2:01:39, set by Kipchoge in Berlin last month, in his sights.
It is common for athletes to keep their cards close to their chest, but Farah does seem genuinely unsure what his future holds. It is easy to see why the 2019 World Championships must be appealing for a man who still has plenty left to give on the track, and the fact that the tournament in Doha is still just under a year away would give him enough time to recalibrate.
Should he enjoy success at the Championships, there is every chance that Farah will enter the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He will be 37 by then and it would be a tough ask for him to win another double of gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, a feat he achieved at both London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, but it would surely be hard for Farah to turn down the opportunity to achieve immortality by becoming the first athlete to win both events at three different Olympics.
Farah’s future is still unclear, but it will be fascinating to watch how the next stage of his career unfolds in the coming months.