British Athletics chief Neil Black says it is “massively important” for team spirit that Mo Farah wins gold on day one of the Moscow World Championships.
Double Olympic champion Farah, 30, will begin his pursuit of a 10,000m and 5,000m world double on Saturday.
Farah powers to Olympic gold
“He expects to win,” Black told BBC Sport. “He’s very aware, thoroughly prepared and so confident.
“He’s done everything he possibly can so it’s massive for him and for us. It’d be a surprise if he didn’t win.”
Britain’s performance director has refused to set a medal target for the championships, insisting his young team was in transition and working towards the Rio Olympics in 2016 and the World Championships in London the following year.
However, with Farah having performed so impressively this seasonit would be a shock were Britain’s greatest distance runner not to become 10,000m world champion on Saturday, setting the team up to match or better the six-medal haul at London 2012.
“He’s had experiences where he was overconfident, or just didn’t know who was in the field,” added Black, referring to the 2011 World Championships when Farah had to settle for 10,000m silver after being overtaken by Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeilan in the home straight.
Ones to watch
All times BST
- Sat 10 Aug, 15:55 Men’s 10,000m final – Mo Farah
- Sun 11 Aug, 18:50 Men’s 100m final – Usain Bolt
- Mon 12 Aug, 18:15 Women’s 400m final – Christine Ohuruogu
- Thurs 15 Aug, 17:45 Women’s 400m hurdles final – Perri Shakes-Drayton
- Thurs 15 Aug, 18:00 Men’s 400m hurdles final – Dai Greene
- Fri 16 Aug, 16:30 Men’s long jump final –Greg Rutherford
- Fri 16 Aug, 17:45 Men’s 5,000m final – Mo Farah
- Sat 17 Aug, 16:30 Women’s 4x400m relay
- Sat 17 Aug, 17:10 Men’s 200m final – Usain Bolt
- Sun 18 Aug, 15:10 Women’s 4x100m relay
- Sun 18 Aug, 15:40 Men’s 4x100m relay
“If someone better on the day beats him then there’s nothing he can do about it. But confidence is the word that encompasses it all. He’s learned to truly believe in his ability.”
Meanwhile, Black backed Thursday’s announcement by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that it would increase suspensions for drug cheats from two to four years from 2015.
The governing body’s decision to revert to a four-year sanction follows a spate of failed drug tests including Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell – two of the fastest four 100m runners of all time. Thirty-one Turkish athletes recently received two-year bans for doping, while there are currently 44 Russians suspended.
“We support what the IAAF has decided,” said Black. “We’ll carry on the same as we always have done, being supportive of sensible decisions that leads to the sport being competitive at every level.”
Team captain Christine Ohuruogu, who competes in the 400m heats on Saturday, admitted the positive tests of Tyson and Powell last month were a “dark day” for the sport, but insisted it did not overshadow the championships.
“It’s sport at its worst, but that doesn’t define what I do or define our sport,” said the 29-year-old former Olympic and world 400m champion, who was given a one-year ban in 2006 for missing three out-of-competition drug tests.
“I know there will be people out there striving to perform well, and perform well legitimately. It’s not something I’ve spent too much consideration on.”
Farah seals second gold with 5,000m
As the Russian capital prepares to host the biggest track and field event of the year, the issue of gay rights also loomed over preparations.
Gay rights activists have called on governments to strip Russia of the 2014 Winter Olympics after the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, signed a new law in June imposing fines and up to 15 days in prison on people providing information about homosexuality to under-18s.
But Black said he was not aware that any of his athletes would protest against the Russian government’s laws.
“Track and field is a sport and Great Britain as a nation takes an inclusive approach and that’s how we feel about it,” said Black.
“We’re here to perform, to do our absolute best, and at the same time we’re here to support every team member as effectively as we can and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”