He’s the current Olympic, World and European champion in 5,000m and 10,000m, but for a man with a long list of achievements he’s known by just a single syllable: Mo.
Mohamed ‘Mo’ Farah, is a British long-distance and middle-distance running great who overcame academic adversity and cultural differences to cement his name as one of Britain’s greatest athletes.
Born on March 23, 1983 in Mogadishu, Somalia, Mohamed Muktar Jama Farah, spent his childhood in Djibouti, before moving to Britain at the age of 8 to join his father, a British citizen, not knowing a single word of English. He attended London’s Feltham Community College, where the physical education teacher Alan Watkinson noticed his athletic abilities. “When I first met him, he was struggling academically and suffering from the language barrier. He needed focus and I sort of took him under my wing. His passion was football but it was his turn of speed on the pitch that showed his real talent,” Watkinson is quoted as saying by the BBC.
A lifelong fan of Arsenal, Farah wanted to become a footballer for the club, but made his running debut at the age of 13 in the schools circuit. His first major victory came at the 2001 European Athletics Junior Championship in the 5000m event, and there was no turning back.
He won medal after medal and broke national records on his way to some amazing wins in Europe. He became Britain’s first-ever men’s European Championships gold medal winner in 10,000m. In July 2006, Farah clocked a time of 13 minutes 9.40 seconds in 5000m to become Britain’s second-fastest runner. In March 2009 he took gold in the 3000m at the European Indoor Championships in Turin.
Following years of winning in the European circuit, the next step was the London 2012 Olympics. Farah won the 10,000m gold, Great Britain’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport, and also won the 5000m gold. Later, in August 2013, he won the 10,000m and the 5,000m event at the World Championships, in the process becoming double world and Olympic champion.
The following year, he prepared for his marathon debut in London, something he had long dreamt of achieving. Not being a practiced marathoner, he finished in eighth place and set a new English record of 2 hours, 8 minutes, 21 seconds.
Farah is known for his typical running style, which is described as bouncy and tactical. But his unique victory celebration dance known as the ‘Mobot’ is even more famous. In 2013, for his athletic achievements he was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
A very religious man, Farah believes Islam plays an important part in his preparation. “I normally pray before a race, I read dua (prayers), think about how hard I’ve worked and just go for it.” Farah is additionally involved in various philanthropic initiatives, launching the Mo Farah Foundation which does charitable work in his birthplace Somalia.
Main Image: Farah doing the ‘Mobot’ at the 2013 Anniversary Games | Brian Minkoff- London Pixels