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Mo Farah ready for hard yards after struggles at Great Edinburgh XCountry

Sir Mo Farah has brushed off his surprise defeat at the Great Edinburgh International XCountry on Saturday, promising that it will fire him up for the rest of the season and telling his fans: “Don’t worry, Mo knows.”

Farah was off the pace during the 8km race around Holyrood, finishing well back in seventh – 46 seconds behind the American winner Leonard Kiror, whose desperate late sprint took him past Scotland’s Callum Hawkins, who was a valiant second. But afterwards Farah insisted that a spell of indifferent training, rather than a lack of motivation after winning 5,000m and 10,000m gold at last year’s Olympics, was the root cause of his subdued performance.

“It definitely fires me up, it gives me a little wake-up call,” he said. “It shows me that even if you are the Olympic champion and world champion, if you haven’t done the work, you will get beat. It’s as easy as that and the last couple of weeks haven’t gone as well as I wanted.

“But there is no change in myself. I know what I want, I know what I have to do. I just have a little bit more work to do than usual. I was 80% last year when I finished second in this race, and I was 65-70% this year.”

It was the first time the 33-year-old had lost an official race to a Briton since the world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua beat him over 100m in Superstars in November 2012 – while it had been seven years since he had lost a distance race to a compatriot, when he came third behind both Ricky Stevenson and Steve Vernon in Edinburgh in January 2009.

But Farah insisted that four to six weeks of hard altitude-training in Ethiopia – which he says will take place either before or after the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix meeting next month – will put him right. “I’ve got four kids, but you have to say to yourself what works the best for you. And the thing that works for me is being in training camp, isolating myself, get back to basics.

“At the same time, what time of year is it? It’s January, it’s early on so you have still got quite a lot of time. Don’t worry, Mo knows.”

And Farah, who will end his track career at the end of 2017 to concentrate on the marathon, insisted he has every intention of retaining his world 5,000m and 10,000m titles in London during August. “I want to be able to finish my career on a high,” he said. “I don’t want to finish second or third on the track.”

Meanwhile the impressive Hawkins, whose bold front-running tactics came so close to bringing him victory, has warned Farah that he is looking forward to taking him on again in the marathon in 2018. “That will be a good battle,” he said. “I’ll enjoy that.”

When it was put to Hawkins that Farah would probably take his mantle as the best marathon runner in Britain, he replied: “Not without a fight. Even if he is Sir Mo Farah.” However the Scot, who is trained by the British marathon record holder Steve Jones, said he would not read too much into his victory over Farah on Saturday.“I’d rather beat him at his best,” said the 24-year-old. “He wasn’t 100%. I don’t want to beat people for the sake of it – I want to beat people because they are the best competitors. I’m sure he’ll be back up there in London.”

But Hawkins rued the fact he was unable to hold off Kiror, despite appearing to make a decisive break with 400m to go only to be reeled in just before the line. “I watched the American Olympic trials so I knew he was a quality athlete,” he said. “But I thought I had it won before the last hill. Coming over the burn, I slipped a bit but thought: ‘You’re still not going to get me.’ I could hear him coming. That’s racing.

In the mixed 4x1km, Laura Muir continued her strong recent form by anchoring Britain to victory – and afterwards promised more was to come. “I wasn’t used to being the one to watch before but it’s great that people are recognising that I’m running fast and I just want to try and keep that up,” she added.

⇒The Guardian

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