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From Somalia to South Korea – Mo Farah is destined for greatness

  Thursday 4th August 2011

With the London Olympics now less than a year away, the distance runner’s first step on a road he hopes will lead to gold medal glory in his adopted city will begin at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu on August 27th.

Having moved to the UK to escape the ravages of war in his homeland at the age of 8, Farah has now emerged as a genuine favourite to win a double at 5,000 and 10,000 meters. He managed both at the European Championships in Barcelona last year and having knocked off an impressive 40 seconds from his PB in training at 10k this year, the 28-year-old has beaten all who have stood in his path so far this season.

Farah’s start to his athletics career couldn’t have gone better – almost immediately the natural runner had won five English schools titles. But, in his early 20s, he became stricken by illness and injury woes, and his body’s increased fragility led him to reassess his lifestyle and training techniques.

Mo Farah running the 5000m at the Birmingham Diamond League 2011.

Mo Farah running the 5,000m at the Birmingham Diamond League 2011. Photo: Paul Foot

After studying the regime of the all-conquering Kenyan athletes, Farah made a choice to undergo a transformation and quickly moved into a strict Kenyan household in Teddington, London; which consisted of the routine “eat, sleep and train”. These later advanced to six week long visits of Kenya to train at high altitude and again, apply the method of ‘eat, sleep and train’. The runner’s motto “Train hard, win easy” reflects this strong work ethic.

His employment of three-time New York marathon winner, Alberto Salazar, confirms this aspiration and Farah has now revealed that the 2012 Olympics will be his last season on the track before his long-distance progression into marathons. Salazar, who was employed early in the year, has been highly influential in the commitment the athlete has shown to his sport; largely due to being a leader of the elite training programme- the Oregon project.

The project consists of six elite athletes trained under Salazar. Their training techniques include high altitude training- as well as the use of anti-gravity and underwater treadmills- which are all funded by Nike, as a means to cultivate the best performances, out of the best athletes.

This phenomenal success is a far cry from a teenage boy’s dreams of becoming a professional football player for Arsenal FC. Yet, from the injected hopes of an optimistic P.E. teacher came a man who dedicated his life to his athletics career, many miles away from sprinter Dwain Chambers who was banned from professional competition for two years after being found guilty of doping in 2003; in which Chambers used performance enhancing drugs.

Farah has been clear about his anti-doping views, “…to say you cannot get to the top without cheating – I don’t believe that” and provides a great role-model for talented and prospective athletes everywhere. And he could be one of the most famous faces in the world this time next year.

Grace Newton


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