Mo Farah heads 'dream team' for Tyneside showpiece

Mo Farah is to race against Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebreselassie when the trio come to Tyneside for the Bupa Great North Run

Mo Farah at Gateshead International Stadium
Mo Farah at Gateshead International Stadium

Mo Farah will face fellow distance-running greats Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebreselassie at the Bupa Great North Run on September 15.

The trio of world and Olympic champions will come together for the first time, with event founder Brendan Foster hailing the line-up as “the greatest head-to-head in half-marathon history”.

Farah holds the British record over the distance and will be aiming to become the first British winner of the event since Steven Kenyon in 1985.

Farah said: “It is always one of the world’s top half-marathon races, and this year promises to be a great race with me against Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.

“I remember watching Haile win the 2000 Olympic Games in a sprint finish in Sydney when I was just 17 years old.

“I have experience on the roads but this will be only my third half-marathon race. I won in New York in 2011 and New Orleans earlier this year. I hope to make it a third win in the North East.” Bekele preceded Farah as Olympic 5,000 metres and 10,000m champion at the Beijing Games and, like Farah, is also beginning his transition to road racing.

The race will also see the return of Gebreselassie, who won the event three years ago but missed the 2012 race due to injury.

Foster said: “We’ve had many fantastic races down the Newcastle to South Shields course in past years, but this will be a competition everyone in the athletics world will want to watch.

“No one could ask for a better ‘dream team’ to participate in their event and we are delighted they will feature in what has the makings of the greatest head-to-head in half-marathon history.”

Meanwhile, Christine Ohuruogu has been named captain of the British athletics team for next month’s World Championships in Moscow, with Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford added to the line-up after proving his fitness. Ohurougu, a former Olympic and world 400m champion, was selected for the role by performance director Neil Black.

Middlesbrough long jumper Chris Tomlinson, a former European bronze and world silver medallist indoors who had been in line to replace Rutherford, made clear his displeasure at the decision on Twitter.

The 31-year-old said: “Hugely disappointed that im not going to Moscow, especially when in better current form & 100% fit & ready.”

The captaincy is particularly important to Ohuruogu because her 20-year-old sister Victoria is also in the squad for the 4x400m relay.

Ohuruogu said: “I am very proud to have been asked by Neil to be the team captain. When he called me up the other week, I thought I was in trouble. I am not normally someone who likes the spotlight, but this is a lovely feeling to be trusted in this role, and it’s nice for myself and my coach Lloyd (Cowan) for the hard work we have put in over the years.

“Having Vicky on the team really brings home the responsibility to me. If ever there was a reminder that there are stepping stones along the way and the team captain is there to help young athletes settle in, then having my younger sister nearby is definitely it.

“An athlete’s career can be a rollercoaster of experiences, but if anything I know they’ve made me stronger as a person, and I hope to lead by example when I get on the track in Moscow.”

Black described Ohuruogu as “one of the Britain’s greatest ever athletes” and said: “I know she will do a brilliant job of motivating her team-mates.”

Rutherford missed returning to the Olympic Stadium at the weekend as he had not recovered fully from a hamstring injury. But the 26-year-old passed a series of tests and was added to the team for the championships, which begin on August 10.

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