Mo Farah gritted his teeth and went to the well one last time. But roared on and implored on by an expectant crowd it was not to be.
And that, quite simply, is sport, fairytale endings, as we’ve learned so spectacularly in recent days, don’t come as standard.
Farah narrowly missed out on a remarkable fifth consecutive major championships distance double in London but don’t say he settled for silver. Farah isn’t the sort to settle for anything.
It had been 2176 days since his last defeat on the track in a major championship final. In that time he’d won four Olympic, six world and three European titles. He had secured his place in the pantheon of his sport and the hearts of his nation.
But in the end time – and his rivals – simply caught up with the greatest track athlete Britain has ever produced.
Perhaps the exertions of his brilliant win in the World Championship 10,000m took their toll as the 34-year old couldn’t respond to the late injection of pace from Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris – whose tactics were straight out the Farah playbook – and who secured the world 5,000m title.
But while the gold dream faded, Farah didn’t. Beaten but not down, he kicked again on the home straight to snatch silver ahead of the USA’s Paul Chelimo while team-mate Andrew Butchart finished eighth.
He will have two more races on the track, in Birmingham and Zurich, before he sets his sights on the road, but his place in history is long secure.
“I gave it my all, I had nothing left,” he said.
“The 10,000m took a lot more out of me than I had realised. They had a game plan and that was that one was going to sacrifice themselves, but I gave it my all.
“I didn’t have a single thing left to give at the end. I got boxed in and couldn’t get out.
“I remember in 2008, being so disappointed and not sure whether to carry on with the sport or not. I had to decide what it took to become a champion and that was to move to the other side of the world. Nothing was guaranteed but I took that chance.
“I have a few more races on the track and then I will take a short break and then this chapter of my life is closed. It’s a very special night. It’s been amazing but it’s been a long journey. It didn’t quite hit home until I took a few moments to myself where I realised this is it.”
Elsewhere, Katarina Johnson-Thompson certainly salvaged some pride – but fell just short of her medal ambition with a fifth place in the women’s high jump final.
The British record holder equalled her season’s best with a 1.95 metre effort but couldn’t get over 1.97m, which would have been just a centimetre under her personal best from last year’s Rio Olympics.
However, in a high-quality final, the 24-year old would have needed to jump higher than she ever has before to make the podium.
Russia’s Maria Lasitskene, competing as a neutral athlete, defended her title with a clearance of 2.03m while Ukraine’s Yuliia Levchenko took silver ahead of Poland’s Kamila Licwinko. Johnson-Thompson’s British team-mate Morgan Lake finished sixth.
“It was close but not close enough but when I reflect I’ve got to be happy with that in my first-ever high jump final,” she said.
“I felt pretty fatigued in the warm-up and my legs are pretty tired. It’s been a long week but I’m not making excuses. I’m glad I got to bounce back and show what
“I’m not a quitter, I know I can do a good heptathlon and I’ll get there one day and there’s always next year.”
You can help the next generation of young British athletes by getting involved in SportsAid Week this September with London 2012 hero Greg Rutherford MBE. Find out more about how you can support the week of fun and fundraising by visiting www.sportsaid.org.uk/sportsaidweek.
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