Michael Roberts, 12 August 2012
As Mohamed Farah was about to breast the tape as winner during the pulsating 5000-metres finish at the London Olympics, he gave thanks to Allah in Muslim fashion. Here then was a humble Somali Briton who had embraced his new country and gained from its openness, but one who remained attached to his heritage.
His victory was an unprecedented moment in world athletic history: no man had won the gruelling 10,000-metre and 5,000-metre races back to back at any Olympics. The momentous battle for victory over the last 150 metres of the 5,000 metres was a stirring moment in itself as IGuider of Morocco ran out of puff and faded but Gebremeskel of Ethiopia strode strong and looked set to overtake Mo farah who somehow found the reserves to maintain his loping stride and reach the tape a clear winner if two yards can be that.
And just take in the cosmopolitan world stage in the list at this finish:
Mohamed Farah — Somalian Briton
Dejen Gebremeskel — Ethiopia
Thomas Longosiwa — Kenya
Bernard Lagat — Kenyan American of USA
Isiah Koech — Kenyan
Abdalaati IGuider –Moroccan
Galen Rupp –US American.
Needless to say, Mo Farah – as his pals and the British world fondly call him –was cheered lustily and wholeheartedly by the British people at the Stadium as he raced around the track in the last two laps of that magnificent race.
Earlier, when Mo Farah won the 10,000 metres in an equally fascinating finish, the world had witnessed his step-daughter Rihanna and then his pregnant wife, Tania Nell, being permitted on to the track – in a welcome breach of protocol – to share his moment of triumph with Union Jack around his shoulders. That Tania and Rihanna are extremely attractive would have been noticed by one and all; while some would also spot the fact that both are, as the saying goes, of “Mediterranean complexion”, that is, of mixed race. Indeed, both Tania and Rihanna could pass for Ceylonese or Sri Lankan without a beat (as long as they kept mum).
Born at Mogadishu on the 23 March 1983, Mohamed Farah had reached Britain at the age of eight. Struggling to adjust at Feltham Community College in West London, he was fortunate to have been mentored by his PE teacher Alan Watkinson. Fuller details of his career can be found in the Wikipedia account and especially in an excellent essay by Cahal Milmo. I select a segment from the latter piece:
“After a brief period of working in a fast food restaurant and a sports shop to pay his way after leaving school, Farah won a £10,000 National Lottery grant to take up running full time and at the suggestion of Simms, moved into a house in Teddington shared with leading Kenyan runners, including the 5,000m world champion Benjamin Limo.”
There at Teddington, Farah learnt a great deal from the ascetic life-world of the Kenyan runners: “It took time to adjust to their way of thinking and training. The Kenyan runners are so humble and hard-working. They run, sleep, train and that’s it. I’m living my life in that manner now. That’s exactly what you have to do to be amongst the best in the world.”
In February 2011 Farah relocated to Portland in Oregon, USA so that he could train under Alberto Salazar where Galen Rupp was also being coached. That Rupp and Mo Farah are bosom buddies was only too evident after the 10,000 metres, where Rupp was a worthy second. No one was more delighted when Farah received his gold medal on the Olympic podium than Rupp, a lovely fella who is a credit to the Olympic spirit.
Both are also outstanding symbols of multi-cultural cosmopolitanism. Hip, Hip Hurrah!!
ALSO SEE “London 2012 Olympics: interview with dressage rider Laura Bechtolsheimer,” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/equestrianism/9411621/London-2012-Olympics-interview-with-dressage-rider-Laura-Bechtolsheimer.html