Mo Farah is a British middle distance runner who has won two Olympic gold medals. Farah won gold medals in the 5000m and 10,000m in the London 2012 Olympics, making him one of Britain’s most successful distance runners of all time. This accomplishment was later repeated at the 2016 Olympics. He presently owns the British records for 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000m, and has just progressed to the marathon distance.
Farah was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, on March 23rd in 1983. However, owing to violence in Somalia’s capital, the family relocated north to Djibouti, where he was cared for by his grandparents with his twin brother. His father was working as a general assistant at Heathrow airport at the time and would occasionally visit, bringing presents from England.
Farah arrived in England in 1992, but he ended up living with his aunt in West London rather than with his father. Mo has said nothing about his childhood, and there are contradictory accounts of how he got to England. However, it is suspected that he came here looking for refuge or to flee the turbulent situation in Somalia. When asked if he plans to visit England, Farah says he’d prefer not discuss it.
Farah attended London’s Feltham Community College. Farah subsequently reflected on his first day in school, saying, “I was this African child who looked like he needed sorting.” I got a black eye as a result.”
Despite the fact that his school days were not without incident and difficulty, a senior instructor, Alan Watkinson, saw his athletic aptitude. Watkinson fostered and supported the young Farah throughout his career. Farah requested Watkinson to be his best man when he married Tania in 2010.
Watkinson recalls Farah struggling when he initially arrived in England because he didn’t speak English. His schooling was constantly lagging behind the linguistic barrier. Farah, on the other hand, shown skill in both football and sports, even if he did not thrive academically. Farah was initially more interested in football, but a watershed moment came when he was 14 and was chosen to attend the British Olympic prospects camp in Florida. Watkinson initially failed to obtain a visa for Farah, but the trip proved pivotal. “I know what I need to do,” Farah remarked when he returned.
Farah, Watkinson recalls, never had a family member come along to cheer him on during his junior career.
Farah won the English Schools Cross Country Championship at the age of 15, his first major national title. He earned his first international title in 2001, winning the 5000m junior championship.
Farah attended the Endurance and Performance Coaching Centre at St Mary’s University in Twickenham after Feltham. Farah supported himself by working at fast food restaurants and as a sales assistant for Sweatshop, a sports retailer. Farah says he wasn’t the most diligent athlete at this period of his life. Aside from jogging, he was a late riser with an active social life. Farah, however, moved in with a group of keen and disciplined Kenyan runners (including Micah Kogo and Benjamin Limo) at 59 Park Road when he was 21 (about 2004). This demonstrated Farah’s innate potential and motivated him to become more disciplined and dedicated in his running.
On the track, he was earning worldwide recognition, and in 2006, he won his first European gold medal in the 10,000-meter cross-country race. He was chosen to compete in the 5,000m at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Farah, on the other hand, was sad that she did not qualify for the final.
Following the 2008 Olympics, Ian Stewart was named head of the UK athletics endurance squad. He spent time with Farah and urged him to be more deliberate in his preparation, cutting back on kilometers and attempting to be fresher for races. Farah began attending altitude training camps with the help of British athletics.
He had a strong showing in the European Athletics Championships in 2010. He won gold in the 5000m and 10,000m races.
Following this promotion to international status, Farah chose Alberto Salazar as his full-time coach. He relocated to Oregon with his wife Tania in 2011. Tania had a daughter from a previous marriage, Rhianna. Farah raises her as if she were his own child.
Farah was benefiting from Salazar’s training tactics. Altitude training in Africa combined with the usage of any marginal gain (such as cryogenic machine to aid recovery)
He won the world title in 2011. Farah won the 5000m and finished second in the 10,000m final, settling for silver.
Farah’s strong results made him one of Britain’s leading medal contenders at the Olympics. Farah won the 10,000m in 27:30.42 seconds on a historic night for British athletics (Aug 4th). It was the country’s first gold medal at this distance. A week later, Farah was able to duplicate his achievement and win the 5,000m, giving him a double Olympic gold medal. Farah responded by describing the atmosphere in the Olympic stadium.
“I have never experienced something like this before; it won’t become much better than the above; this is the best moment of my life.”
Farah was asked about his nationality and if he would have wanted a Somali flag after winning the gold medal. Farah responded:
“Look, buddy, this is my nation.” This is where I grew up and where I began my life. This is my nation, and I’m happy to wear my Great Britain vest. I’m quite proud of myself. The help I received today was incredible. It seemed unbelievable to me. It was the happiest time of my life.” (1)
Photos of Mo Farah executing the ‘Mobot’ celebration after victory became an iconic image of the games. In the 100m, he is almost as well-known as Usain Bolt. After participating on a panel game show host alongside Clare Balding in May 2012, he created the Mobot celebration.
Farah’s coach, Alberto Salazar, was investigated in 2015 after his training techniques were criticized by previous athletes who said he was ready to push the boundaries into the grey area of therapeutic use exemptions – when the athlete didn’t truly require the medication but utilized it for benefit. Salazar was then investigated by USADA. Farah originally supported his coach, but departed in 2017 to train with Gary Lough (Paula Radcliffe’s husband). Farah explained his choice as follows:
“As I’ve always maintained, I believe in clean sport and feel that anyone who violates the rules should be punished.” I’d be out the door if Alberto had crossed the line, but Usada hasn’t charged him with anything. I would not have stuck with Alberto all this time if I had had any cause to distrust him.” (Guardian, October 2017)
Away from athletics, Farah established the Mo Farah Foundation to help Somali orphans. He pays frequent visits to the orphans supported by his organization. His wife Tania was pregnant with twins during the Olympics, and she gave birth shortly afterward.
Farah is a die-hard Arsenal F.C. supporter. He is a devoted Muslim who prays on the ground after a race. His two Olympic gold medals have earned him lucrative endorsement deals with businesses such as Nike, Lucozade, Bupa, and Virgin Media. Though he does not declare his earnings, it is thought that he makes more than £2 million every year.
In the 2013 honours list, he received a CBE.
Farah ran 3:28.81 in Monaco in 2013 to break Steve Cram’s 28-year-old British record for the 1500m. He fulfilled a long-held ambition by running the London marathon in 2014. He finished eighth in 2:08.21.
Farah became only the second person in Olympic history to win both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. He declared his retirement from track running in 2017 to focus on the marathon.