Eugene: British track star Mo Farah kept his long-distance winning streak alive by capturing the men’s 10,000 metre race at the 2016 Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field on Friday night.
The 33-year-old Farah held off Kenya’s William Sitonik with a strong finishing kick on the last lap to win with a world-leading time of 26 minutes, 53.71 seconds.
It was his first race on an outdoor track since competing at the Beijing World Championships nine months ago.
“It is my first track race so it is good to get it out of the way,” said Farah who also swept the 5,000 and 10,000 races at the 2012 London Olympics. “I have some great memories on this track.”
The IAAF Diamond League series hit US soil for the first time this season on a cool night at Hayward Field as a host of international stars are stepping up preparations for this summer’s Rio Olympics.
Farah is considered the world’s leading long-distance runner and has not lost a 10,000 metre race since his silver medal at the 2011 World Championships.
The Somalian-born Farah has also not lost a 5,000 metre race since finishing second at the 2012 Prefontaine Diamond League meet.
Friday’s victory makes him the only three-time and back-to-back 10,000 metre winner in Prefontaine history with other victories coming in 2011 and 2015.
“They have some true fans here,” Farah said.
Farah is the fastest British runner in history at every championship distance from 1,500 metres to the marathon.
He said his preparations for Rio are progressing smoothly.
“It is going well. I am in a good place. I feel healthy that is the important,” Farah said.
Farah ran in second place for the majority of Friday’s race. He took the lead with two laps to go but Sitonik passed him on the last lap setting the stage for what looked like a one-two sprint to the finish.
– Watch helplessly -But Sitonik’s lead was shortlived as Farah still had plenty left in the tank. All the Kenyan could do was look helplessly over his right shoulder as Farah stormed past him to win.
Farah’s time was 26 seconds faster than the previous best time of the season set by Ethiopia’s Leul Gebrselassie (27.19.71).
Reigning world champion Joe Kovacs won the shot put with three of the top throws in the world this year. He capped his evening with a toss of 22.13 metres to easily beat runner-up Tom Walsh of New Zealand who had a 20.84.
Kovacs got off to a slow start to 2016 but Friday’s results show he is ready to challenge at the Rio Olympics.
Hellen Obiri led a Kenyan sweep in the women’s 5,000 metres with a modest time of 14:32.02.
The competition continues Saturday with top international talent competing in the men’s 100m and women’s 100m and men’s 400m.
The meet is named after Steve Prefontaine, America’s greatest middle distance runner at the time of his tragic death at age 24 in 1975.
The meet was hit by a number of late withdrawals, including Olympic silver medallist Galen Rupp, Ethiopian distance runner Genzebe Dibaba and US sprinter Allyson Felix.
It was expected Dibaba would make an attempt at the 5,000 meter world record Friday night, but she pulled out with a toe injury suffered in training.
The Prefontaine Classic is the fourth stop on the 14-meet Diamond League series that culminates with the Brussels meet in September.