Heading for a major win in Rio

brasilobserver - Feb 11 2016
Britain's Mo Farah reacts as he wins the men's 5000m final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT ATHLETICS OLYMPICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

(Leia em Português)


First athlete to achieve the distance ‘triple-double’, Mo Farah wants more


By Samuel Green, from Rio 2016 Portal | www.rio2016.com/en

Mo Farah has confounded expectations throughout his life. When he arrived in Britain as an immigrant from war-torn Somalia, eight years old and speaking hardly any English, few could have imagined he would become a national hero. When he failed to qualify for the 5000m final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, few could have imagined he would go on to become one of the greatest distance runners of all time.

Two Olympic gold medals, five world championship titles and a wax model at London’s Madame Tussauds later, Farah’s place among the elite of world sport is cemented. At last year’s world championships in Beijing, Farah became the first athlete to do the distance ‘triple-double’ – winning the 5,000m and 10,000m crowns at the Olympic Games and two world championships in succession.

Now Farah is determined to reach the stratosphere at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where he plans to defend both his titles. “This is what I’m training for every day,” he said in an exclusive interview with Rio2016.com. And if he achieves the ‘quadruple-double’ and his good friend Usain Bolt delivers the ‘triple-triple’ (three consecutive 100m, 200m and 4x100m golds) in Brazil, it seems there will be a major celebration.

A devout Muslim, Farah has become a role model for immigrants in Britain. But his inspirational effect is universal and he is a proud Briton, a proud Londoner and a proud Arsenal fan.


How are your preparations for Rio 2016 going?

I’m currently in Ethiopia for an altitude training camp. Running at high altitude means the body can carry more oxygen and it’s an important part of endurance training. I will stay here until the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix on 20 February, after that I return to the US and will continue to prepare for Rio over the summer.


What will be the main challenges to overcome and pitfalls to avoid on the road to Rio?

The main thing for me is to stay injury free so that I am able to follow my usual training programme – straying from my schedule complicates things and I’ve got to be focused on Rio every day. A big personal challenge is spending so much time away from my wife and kids, it doesn’t get any easier over the years, in fact, it gets harder!


How does it feel to be the only athlete to have completed the distance ‘triple-double’?

I’m very happy with my gold medals from London, Moscow and Beijing. None of them were easy and being able to win and then defend my titles meant a lot to me. Any international win for an athlete is something to be proud of, but it feels special to make history on the world stage. I’m putting my body through hell every day to make sure I do myself proud in Rio.


At the start of your career, did you believe you could be so successful?

It took me a very long time and a lot of hard work to reach this level. You have to put in the time – month after month, year after year. When I first started out I had no idea of what was to come, I was still dreaming of becoming a footballer! Athletics has changed my life and shaped my world, it’s given me great discipline over the mind and body. It’s also given me the opportunity to provide for my family and to make sure my children have all the chances I may not have had when I was growing up.


When you arrived in Britain, aged eight and speaking very little English, could you ever have imagined how your life and career would develop?

No, at that time I didn’t even know what competitive running was! When I was young I absolutely loved football and wanted to play for Arsenal. I had never really considered running until my PE teacher, Alan Watkinson, recognised my talent for athletics. Thanks to him and his support, I was able to win quite a few English Schools titles whilst I was still at school. It was only when I won the European Junior 5000m Championships in 2001 that I thought I could do this professionally.


How did your experience as an immigrant – and having come from a war-torn country – influence your development as a person and an athlete?

I don’t really remember too much about Somalia as I was so young. But I and my family felt so at home in the UK because the people there are so welcoming, it is a truly multi-cultural society. It’s where I grew up, it’s where I went to school. I am proud of my dual heritage and proud to be British – when I run, I run for Great Britain.


2015 must also have been a difficult year, with the controversy surrounding your coach (Alberto Salazar, who strenuously denied doping allegations made against him) – how did this affect you?

It’s been frustrating to be pulled into it and it isn’t something I want to go through again but I just put my head down and got on with my training and two gold medals in Beijing was the result. So really last year was a great year for me.


Looking back on the London 2012 Games now, what are your clearest memories and strongest emotions?

I remember the roar of the crowd when I was on the last lap, it was a great feeling to have 80,000 people pushing me to win, shouting my name.


Can you do a ‘quadruple-double’ by defending your titles in Rio? Who will be your main challengers?

This is what I’m training for every day. I expect my main challengers to be the same as the last few years, mostly athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia. There are always incredibly talented runners in both the 5k and 10k.


What do you think Rio will be like as an Olympic host city?

I’ve never been to Rio but I can’t wait, everyone has told me how beautiful the beaches are and how the people are so friendly. Brazil is famous for its football so hopefully I’ll get a chance to take a break from running and improve my dribbling! Even though I’ll be thousands of miles away from London, I know I will still have that support from home, and that keeps me going.


How did your friendship with Usain Bolt develop and will you celebrate together if you both achieve your goals in Rio?

Usain and I have grown up together in athletics, under the spotlight, and he understands what it takes. We have known each other for over 10 years now. I wish him all the best for Rio, if we both win I’m sure we’ll throw a huge party!


What will you do after the Rio Games?

In 2017 we have the world championships in London – that will probably be my next target. I’m undecided, but maybe after that I will move to the roads and marathon. I will have to wait and see how the rest of the year plays out.