Athletics

Farah backs 2019 night marathon

Mo Farah (AFP)
Mo Farah (AFP)

Doha - British double Olympic champion Mo Farah on Thursday backed plans for a night-time marathon at the 2019 World Athletics Championships to be held in Qatar.

Farah, speaking in Doha where he will compete in the 3 000m at the 2015 Diamond League opener on Friday, said he supported any idea that would make athletics more "exciting".

"A night marathon which is proven is better for us in terms of climate... why not?

"I think sometimes I look at athletics and how do we make it exciting? It can be exciting if we work together," the Olympic 5 000m and 10 000m gold medallist told a press conference.

"All the time you see football on TV. It's important that we give back something to the sport and to build athletics."

A night-time marathon was one of the proposals in Qatar's successful bid to host the 2019 event.

The plan is for the runners to compete on a specially-lit course along Doha's waterfront, the Corniche.

Farah is widely expected to make the switch in distances to marathon running, although he will first defend his Olympic titles in Rio next year.

"I will probably carry on until probably 2017 the London World Championships and then after that go on to the marathon," he said.

The 32-year-old finished eighth in his first marathon, in London, last year. Despite his placing he still broke the English record, finishing in 2hr 8min 21sec.

Farah, on his first visit to Qatar, added that it was "great to be here in Doha".

He was speaking after Dahlan Al Hamad, the IAAF Vice-President who is a Qatari, confirmed that Doha was still planning to press ahead with a night-time race.

He said athletics needed "innovation" and hoped the event would be "one of the best" of the championships.

"Innovation is something that we need," he said.

"When we proposed the night marathon, we did not propose is just because we sat on the table and said 'OK'. We have practised it and made a test for it."

Doha would not be the first athletics venue to host a marathon run at night.

In 1964 the Olympic marathon in Rome finished in the dark, with a course lit by torches.

The winner, Ethiopia's Abebe Bikila, ran barefoot.

The 2019 championships will be held in late September and early October, when the fierce summer heat in Qatar will begin to "cool" to an average of around 36 degrees Celsius (97 Farenheit).

Athletes on Friday are expected to start competing in a predicted temperature of around 41 degrees Celsius (105 Farenheit).

The Diamond League opener will showcase many stars including not only Farah, but also controversial US sprinter Justin Gatlin, Mohammed Aman and Asbel Kiprop, the men's current 800m and 1500m world champions, and America's 200m Olympic champion Allyson Felix.


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