Mo Farah has pulled out of the London Marathon, leaving Sunday’s race devoid of its biggest star and raising further questions about whether the four-time Olympic champion’s competitive career is over.
The 39-year-old broke the news on Wednesday evening after revealing he had recently suffered tightness in his right hip and was not fit to compete. Incredibly, Farah is the sixth major withdrawal from the race, leaving organisers understandably reeling.
“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” said Farah. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”
The withdrawal means that Farah, who turns 40 in March, has raced just seven times since October 2019 – with his most recent run resulting in victory over a modest field in the 13.1-mile Big Half this month. Before then he was beaten by the self-confessed club runner Ellis Cross, who had paid £37 to enter the Vitality 10km in May. However he insisted that he hoped to be back for next year’s race in April.
“It’s really disappointing to have to withdraw after a good last few months and after my win at the Big Half but also because I love racing in front of my home crowd in London who always give all of us athletes such amazing support,” added Farah.
“I wish everyone taking part on Sunday a good run and I hope to be back out there with you in April 2023.”
Farah’s withdrawal is another huge blow for organisers, who had built up his clash with another legend, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
The news was greeted with sadness by event director Hugh Brasher, who said: “We are so sorry that Sir Mo is not fit to run on Sunday. We wish him a very speedy recovery and hope to see him running the 2023 TCS London Marathon in April next year.”
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Those who have pulled out also include the women’s world record holder Brigid Kosgei, who has suffered a hamstring injury, as well as Commonwealth champion Eilish McColgan, whose training was affected by unexpected issues with her blood sugar levels.
In the men’s race Tamirat Tola, the winner of the 2022 world championship marathon in Oregon, is also out – along with the second and third in last year’s race, Vincent Kipchumba and Mosinet Geremew.
However the women’s field still features several world-class athletes, including Kosgei’s compatriot and last year’s winner Joyciline Jepkosgei.