Mo Farah pulls out of the Great North Run

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MO Farah has opted out of the Great North Run next weekend.

And the event will also be missing running legend Haile Gebrselassie.

The Ethiopian, who won the event in 2010, has been forced to withdraw due to a knee injury,

Double Olympic champion Farah has decided to step down in distance and turn his attention to an invitational two-mile event which has been added to the Great North CityGames schedule on the Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside on the Saturday afternoon.

Farah, who won gold in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at London 2012, has recently celebrated the arrival of twin daughters which has been a distraction from his training commitments for the half marathon distance.

After taking part in what is expected to be a celebratory atmosphere on the Saturday afternoon, in front of thousands of spectators and a live BBC television audience, Farah will be on hand to assist four other gold medallists from London 2012 with honorary starting duties at the Bupa Great North Run.

Farah said, “I’m sorry not to be able to take part in the Bupa Great North Run but the last few weeks have taken their toll and it would be disrespectful to take on the distance without the necessary hard training.

“Of course I’ll be delighted to take part on the Saturday afternoon, before high fiving as many people as possible on Sunday morning!”

Farah will join several other British heroes in starting the big race a week on Sunday.

Rower Kat Copeland, from Teesside, will also be joined by gold medal long jumper Greg Rutherford, boxing sensation Nicola Adams and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds.

The British heroes will set the record 55,000 participants off on their 13.1 mile half marathon from Newcastle to South Shields, just after the Red Arrows flying display team salute the runners with a fly-past on the start line.

Copeland, 21, pictured, is looking forward to another big day.

She said: “It’s a massive privilege to be invited to be one of the honorary starters of the Bupa Great North Run and will be another highlight of an incredible few weeks for me.

“I think the atmosphere on the day will match that at Eton Dorney last month!”

Brendan Foster, Chairman of organisers Nova International, said: “London 2012 inspired the nation and these four talented individuals encapsulate the spirit of the Games. We’re thrilled they will be joining us in Newcastle.”