Being a world champion does not guarantee you a massage whenever—or, more pertinently, wherever—you want one, it seems. Britain’s 10,000m champion Mo Farah found himself frustrated in his bid for a post-race rub on Saturday by over-officious Russian stewards.
Having enjoyed his happy ending out on the track in Moscow a few hours earlier, producing a blistering last lap to hold off Ethiopian rival Ibrahim Jeilan, the double Olympic champion was subsequently denied re-entry to the warm-down area at the Luzhniki Stadium by officials, thwarting his plans for a quick rub-down from UK Athletics physio Neil Black.
Even the presence of his gold medal—kindly exhibited to officials by Farah’s daughter, Rihanna—could not grant Farah entry, forcing him and Black to fulfill their scheduled appointment in a nearby car park.
Oh, the glamour of athletics.
“It was unbelievable,” Farah said, according to Guy Aspin in the Daily Mail. “I finished drug-testing, everybody was leaving and I had to see Neil Black because I always see him. We tried to go through and they weren't having it, they wouldn't let us in.
“I was like, ‘I just want to go and see the physio’. But they wouldn't let us through. Rihanna was like, ‘There's daddy's medal here’. But they weren't having it and so we came outside and just did it under a tree.”
The massage (which was followed up by a hotel room dinner of steak and chips) was much needed for Farah, who returns to the track (officials permitting, of course) on Tuesday for the heats in the 5,000m. The 30-year-old is bidding to become just the second athlete ever to win both the 10,000m and 5,000m in successive Olympics and World Championships, but he insists success in Saturday’s final is not guaranteed.
“I was getting texts from people just saying, ‘Go and do it’. I'm like, ‘It's not as easy as that!,'” Farah added. “If it was it would be boring. If it was everyone would be winning.”
Nevertheless, a second victory would elevate him into the conversation about the greatest middle-distance runners ever.
"It [the double] would be great,” he said. “It's something I want to do. It just depends on how the race is run. It's not a case of me just saying I'm going to go out there and do it.
“I will go out there and work hard, cover every move."