Mo Farah wins home gold, Cam Levins 11th

Canadians Cam Levins 11th, Mohammed Ahmed 18th in strong Olympic debuts.

With a thrilling finish and a blistering final lap, Great Britain’s Mo Farah won gold in the men’s 10,000m in 27:30.42, Saturday at London’s Olympic stadium.

Farah took the lead at the bell and closed in 53 seconds for the last 400m. American Galen Rupp was second in 27:30.90, overtaking Ethiopia’s Tariku and Kenenisa Bekele with his kick. Tariku Bekele was third in 27:31.43, which will be considered a disappointment back home. Rupp is just the third U.S. runner ever to medal in the event.

A rarity in the distance events, the Kenyans were kept off the podium. Beden Muchuri was their top finisher in fifth. Early leader Wilson Kiprop dropped out midway through the gruelling race.

Historically, Canadians haven’t had much to cheer about in the long-distance races. But Saturday was different. Cam Levins of Black Creek, B.C., hung with the lead pack until the final lap, finishing 11th in 27:40.68. Mohammed Ahmed of St. Catharines, Ont., was 18th in 28:13.91.

“I was there with the best in the world for 24 laps,” Levins said. “I just don’t have the strength yet to kick with them.”

As expected, the 10,000m was a tactical affair, with erratic pace changes. Alternating slow and fast laps for the first half of the race, the leaders passed 5K in 14:05 and closed in a shade over 2:30 for the final kilometre.

Levins, 23, a two-time NCAA champion this year, hadn’t faced competition at the highest level until the Olympics. He will regroup to run in the heats of the 5000m on Aug. 8.

Ahmed, who ran with lead pack until getting dropped around 4K to go, called it a learning experience for 2016. “You can never be satisfied,” said Ahmed, 21.”But I learned a lot and want to become more consistent at this level.”

Canada’s best ever finish in the Olympic men’s 10,000m was fourth by Joseph Keeper, who ran 32:336.20 at the 1912 Games. Levins’s 11th-place finish is the best Canadian performance in the event in recent history.

It’s cool to meet guys like Mo Farah,” Levins added, “but you don’t want to put them on a pedestal, I’m going to be racing them for years to come.”

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