This Is England: Exclusive Interview With Mo Farah

Briton Mo Farah has broke through in a big way this season. Photo:
Briton Mo Farah has broke through in a big way this season. Photo:

Great Britain’s first sub-13:00 5,000-meter man takes us through his recent record-breaking performance.

Interview by: Duncan Larkin

Until recently, one would have to go back to the days of Sebastian Coe, Steve Cram, and David Moorcroft to find a British distance runner worth keeping an eye on in major international track competitions. But when Mo Farah crossed the finish line of the 5,000 meters in 12:57.94 at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich last week, everything changed. Farah’s time was the first sub-13 minute performance ever posted by a Brit, breaking Moorcroft’s mark of 13:00.41 from 1982. Farah’s been riding an incredible wave of momentum this season, as he took home double gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the European Championships earlier this summer in Barcelona, joining the likes of legends Emil Zatopek and Salvatore Antibo as the only runners ever to pull off such a feat.

Now confident that he can mix it up with the likes of Tariku Bekele and Micah Kogo every time he takes to the track, Farah has big expectations for his future in the sport. All but assured of a spot on the British squad that will compete in 2012 Olympic Games in his backyard of London, the 27-year-old Somali immigrant hopes to stand atop the medal podium in front of the hometown crowd. caught up with Great Britain’s first sub-13 minute 5,000 meter man and got his thoughts on his recent record-setting performance, the importance of spending some time training with Kenyans and his goals for next season, 2012 and beyond.  You just broke Dave Moorcroft’s 5,000-meter record. You’ve been having an incredible season. Did you expect to break the record in Zurich?

Mo Farah:  No. I sort of knew the difficulties to get ready for a major championship, to peak at a major championship, and then carry it through. There are obviously a lot of emotions in all that–mentally and physically–and I sort of knew if I carried myself well leading up to Zurich, I’d go close to it. I wanted to run under 13 minutes, but I didn’t know how far under 13 minutes I’d actually go if I did it. I’m just glad with how it worked out.

Zurich was a high-quality race. Do you think running with that kind of competitive field helped you?

Oh yeah. That helped a lot. That was a major race. The guys in it were just unbelievable. All the Diamond League meets this year have been incredible. We had Bekele’s brother and then Chris Solinsky all mixing in. It just shows that if you get the right amount of training, you are fit, and get there at the right time, anything can happen. But yeah, it was a good field.

Now that you have the 5,000 record, what are your goals for the rest of the season and then looking out to 2012?

I’ve always been asked the question when I was going to go under 13 minutes for the last four years or thereabouts, because I’ve been running 13:05 and 13:07. So I’m glad I broke that, because then there will be no more questions asked about that at the press conferences. [He laughs.] What you want to do is just stay injury-free and stay focused so that you can get stronger each year. If you can get one year without an injury, you will be able to be stronger than what you were last year. It just gives you good confidence leading up to the World Championships next year. I was seventh in the World Championships last year. I hope to improve from that. We’ll see how it goes. But this year does give me a good base. I have confidence now and am not afraid to mix in, in order to do well there. And then 2012 is not too far away. So what about the 2012 Olympics? I know that I have a good base and that I’m getting stronger each year. I’m really looking forward to it.

Can you attribute anything specifically to your successful season or was it just consistently being able to run injury-free that did it?

Yeah, I think it’s being injury-free, but it’s also about being happy. I have my family around me. I have the right people close by to talk to. As an athlete, you just have to keep working and working. Sometimes it doesn’t come through. But it will come through as long as you believe in it.

So confidence has a lot to do with it for you now?

Oh definitely.

Do you feel like a different runner nowadays?

I still feel like the same Mo runner.  It’s just that this year, I’ve managed to do things right. That’s the big difference. People see you winning, but they don’t see all the ups and downs and all the bumps that come with it. I definitely feel different with how I apply myself. I’d say I’m a lot more confident…because I believe in myself. And that’s the biggest thing, really.

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