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Farah defies heat to stay in the hunt

Mo Farah is adamant that he can continue his emergence as a world-class runner on the track this summer after the most satisfying cross-country performance of his career, writes Dave Martin.

Mo Farah is adamant that he can continue his emergence as a world-class runner on the track this summer after the most satisfying cross-country performance of his career, writes Dave Martin .

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Farah defied the intense 38-degree heat and 80% humidity to be the first European across the line in Saturday's IAAF World Cross Country 12 kilometres race in Mombasa, Kenya, finishing 10th overall.

The 24-year-old Somalian-born athlete, who came to London 14 years ago, made the race his major winter target, rather than concentrating primarily on the European Indoor Championships.

But Farah, backed by his astute coach, UK Athletics endurance director Alan Storey, will now focus on the rigours of taking on the world's best distance runners.

Many people, including Ian Stewart, the last Briton to win the world cross-country crown 32 years ago, insisted winning an indoor 3000m medal in Birmingham would be more beneficial. Farah did compete in Birmingham, but a fall in his qualifying race wrecked his hopes of success in the final.

Now, after recovering from the calf injury collected there and a virus he picked up at the Norwich Union GB team's acclimatisation camp in Durban, he feels that his decision is fully justified.

Last summer's European 5000m silver medallist, said: "After this I've got to believe the Africans are beatable and the only way I am going to go down that path, is like today by racing against them.

"My plan has always been to build upon my second place in Gothenburg, particularly after several years of injury, and this race was very important to me looking towards the summer."

Farah, like every other competitor at the venue, was hampered by the severe weather conditions, with many athletes rushed to hospital.

"People think because of where I was born, I am used to hot weather," he said, "but they seem to forget how long I have lived in England. Yes, it was the toughest race I have run in."

Farah now plans a short rest before starting preparations for the World Championships in August, where his modest target in Osaka will be reaching the 5000m final and "then just seeing what happens".

His build-up to Japan is likely to see him spend a few weeks warm-weather training in America during spring, where he is also planning a couple of races and possibly debuting over 10,000m.

His inspirational display led the senior men to eighth place - top Europeans in a race dominated by the African nations.

The women's squads produced even better displays with Hattie Dean (15th) and Hayley Yelling a place behind, capturing an outstanding fifth position, which was matched by the juniors led home by 15 year-old Charlotte Purdue.

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