WRITTEN FOR TEAM 2012 VISA (FEB 9TH)
He is known world-wide for his smiling, mischievous demeanour but after a record-breaking year, Mo Farah is set to ensure 2011 is all about serious business, as he keeps his eyes firmly set on reaching the Olympic podium next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 27-year-old from Somalian descent moved to England back in 1993 and broke through on to the senior international stage in 2006 with European 5,000m silver.
Fast-forward five years and ‘FlyMo’ - as he is affectionately known in athletic circles - is one of Team GB’s key faces for glory in the 2012 Olympic Games in his hometown, courtesy of the finest season of his career so far.
Although mystery surrounds the identity of his coach at present, it is no secret that the West-Londoner enjoyed an extraordinary track campaign to add to his impressive athletic CV.
Taking European championship 5,000m and 10,000m gold in Barcelona last July, he then broke the long-standing British 5,000m record with 12:57.94 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich to cement his credentials in a breathtaking display of guts and determination.
It was these victories and the sub-thirteen-minute performance which established Farah as a medal contender for future major championships and such form stands him in promising stead for his biggest aim next summer.
Advised by Ricky Simms, Farah is currently training hard in the United States after placing a close runner-up in a world-class field in the New Balance Boston indoor grand prix.
Registering a time of 7:35.81 to finish only a second away from his personal best,
Farah’s performance followed an impressive victory at the Bupa Great Edinburgh cross-country international last month.
A six-time UK champion over cross-country, 1500m and 3,000m and indoors and out, Farah is content with his current form:
“I'm feeling in good shape at the moment following a few good results after a long training stint in Kenya during November and December,” he explained.
“Last year was a very good year for me so I'm keen to build on that and produce even better results this year.”
With his confidence and fitness sky high, Farah is evidently rounding into an athlete who truly believes that he can achieve anything he sets his sights on.
Next up on the agenda will be the IAAF Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on February 19
th, where Farah will be going for the UK 5,000m indoor record of 13:21.27.
The Adidas man is confident that he can surpass the mark and holds positive memories of the venue after breaking the British 3,000m record with 7:34.47 last year.
The key aim of the winter though, is the defence of his 3,000m title at the European indoor championships in Paris in early March and with six continental indoor and outdoor medals to his name, Farah is a hot bet for glory.
Also the national record-holder for 5km on the road (with 13:30 from 2006), Farah is proud to lead a resurgence of British men’s distance running over the past year.
Alongside European 10,000m silver-medallist Chris Thompson, the duo has ignited an upsurge in form and belief in recent months but Farah should not be too concerned for his number-one status just yet:
“There are lots of strong distance runners in Britain at the moment and with more youngsters coming through, it would be great if we could repeat some of the performances from the days when Cram, Coe and Ovett were competing,” he revealed.
With the aim of improving on his previous two results of sixth and seventh, respectively, from the World outdoor championships, Farah could break into the medals in Daegu, South Korea this July judging by his current form.
In his quest to be the best runner in the world, Farah praises the support of his young family amidst the constant travelling away:
“My family are very important to me and I would love to spend all of my time with them although as a long-distance athlete I have to spend a lot of time away from home,” he explained.
“It makes the time we spend together and the successes more worth the sacrifice.”
Fortunately, the sacrifices have paid off ten-fold in recent months and as Farah builds towards Olympic glory – after finishing only sixth in his 5,000m heat in the 2008 Beijing Games – he finds himself in a privileged position as one to beat.
“I'd like to retire one day knowing I've had a successful career and spend the rest of my time with my family, enjoying a relaxed life,” Farah revealed.
So don’t let the smile fool you – this outgoing athlete hides an intense desire to succeed and while he’s on such an eye-catching a roll, you probably shouldn’t bet against him especially on home turf next summer.