MO FARAH cemented his place as the world's most successful distance runner with his spectacular double-double at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer – and he could finish 2016 in some style by becoming the first person to win three consecutive Great North Runs.
Having won his eighth and ninth major worldwide titles with victory in the 10,000m and 5,000m in the Olympic Stadium in Rio, Farah surpassed Kenenisa Bekele as the most successful distance runner of all time.
Now 33, Farah is targeting the World Championships in London next year as his final event on the track before looking towards the marathon, after training partner Galen Rupp scored a bronze medal in Rio having stepped up to the classic distance.
But Farah's immediate focus is on the Great North Run, on Sunday, September 11.
Farah was victorious over the half-marathon distance between Newcastle and South Shields in 2014 and 2015, and is targeting a third victory on the bounce. While Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson, Gunilla Wallengren and Shelly Woods have all won multiple back-to-back Great North Runs in the wheelchair event, no runner has won three in a row, and Mo, fresh from his Rio heroics, is in good shape to rewrite history once more.
“To be Olympic champion again is incredible. I can't believe I've managed to pull it off,” said Farah.
“It's every athlete's dream to be Olympic champion but to do it four times is amazing. Watching Haile Gebrselassie and Paul Tergat in Sydney and thinking ‘one day I'm going to be Olympic champion' and then doing it – there's no way to describe that.
“The Great North Run is one of my favourite events and I'm looking forward to returning to the North-East to defend my title.”
In 2014 he became the first British man to win the Great North Run since Steve Kenyon in 1985, and his 2015 time of 59.22 is a British record.
He will find opposition in the shape of Dathan Ritzenhein, the World Half Marathon Championships bronze medallist.
The American 33-year-old has competed in two Olympic Games in 2008, and 2012 when he finished 13th in the 10,000m behind Farah.
Kenyan Emmanuel Bett has also been announced for the half marathon, looking to complete a rare double having won the Great South Run ten-mile event in 2013. Bett was formerly the fastest man in the world over 10,000m in 2014.
Farah will celebrate his status as the world's greatest distance runner by shooting for victory in the world's greatest half-marathon.
Guinness World Records have officially ratified the event as the world's biggest half-marathon event, with 57,000 entrants annually.
Brendan Foster, chairman of The Great Run Company, was in the BBC commentary box when Farah won all four Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016, and is delighted to welcome him back to Tyneside.
He said: “He's the greatest British athlete in history and will be bidding to make it three in a row at the Great North Run. The welcome he'll receive from the North East public will be deafening.”
The Great North Run will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 11 September, between 9.30am and 1.30pm, with a highlights show on BBC Two at 6pm.