Mo Farah – Interview

Posted on December 15, 2011


5,000 metre World and European Champion and BBC Sports Personality of the Year nominee, Mo Farah, speaks to Martin Owens.

Early in 2011, Mo Farah made the tough decision to move to the USA to train at a higher level. Within six months, it had paid off. In Daegu, South Korea he won his first World Championship gold medal in the 5,000 metres – the UK’s first major long distance gold – just days after narrowly missing out on the gold in the 10,000 metres, having lead for the majority of the race.

He also picked up the Athlete of the Year accolade from the British Athletics Writers’ Association and is already setting his sights on more success in London at the Olympic games next year.

“Preparation for London 2012 is going well,” said Farah. “I’m putting in the high mileage at the moment and I’m back to full fitness after taking a much-needed break at the end of the season.

“Going into the Olympics as a World Champion definitely gives me confidence. The 2011 season was great and I made big improvements from previous years, however it’s not going to be easy next year so I just have to continue working hard.”

Having won gold in 5,000 metres and silver in 10,000 metres in Daegu, Farah is unsure if he will compete in both events in London next year.

“It’s too soon to say whether I’d run both, although I’d like to. It all depends on how I’m feeling at the time and how training has gone up until that point. Alberto Salazar [Farah’s coach] and I will make that decision together closer to the time.”

Improvement in Farah’s performances have dramatically increased since the Somalia-born Brit made the tough decision to move his family to the USA to train at a higher level earlier this year.

He said: “I’ve adjusted to life here in Oregon really well – It didn’t take long at all. It was a big change for my family and I to move to the U.S but we settled in quickly and enjoy being here.

“Training with Galen Rupp [a fellow distance runner] has really helped me, too, as we push each other and Alberto puts a lot of time and effort into coaching us, so that makes a big difference.”

The 28 year-old admits that one of the main factors in his decision to cross the Atlantic was the advancement in technology – in particular an underwater treadmill.  

“The underwater treadmill is amazing. I had never used one before I moved to Oregon but now recognise its big benefits. As an athlete, you’re able to put in the miles using the underwater treadmill without risking injury from the impact of running on a track or path, which is so important. Due to the amount of miles we do every week, our biggest risk is injury.”

After the most successful year of his career, Farah has been named on the 10-man shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

“It’s nice to be acknowledged for my achievements this year,” he said. “The Sports Personality award is such a prestigious event that just to be nominated is an honour.

“I was a little disappointed not to be nominated last year but these things happen and it just shows how many quality sports people we have in the UK.”

Certainly, Farah acknowledges the other runners that inspire him. He said: “Hicham El Guerrouj [Moroccan middle distance runner] was such a great athlete who dominated the track and I remember feeling really happy for him when he won the double gold at the Olympics [Athens 2004]. I always wanted to be as good as him.

“My best advice [to aspiring young athletes] would be to enjoy it. There’s nothing better than doing what you love for a living. It’s also very important to listen to the people around you, like your coach and the people who are closest to you, as they know you best. Work hard and stay focused. Remember nothing comes easy.”

Posted in: Profiles