Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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MO FARAH - HIS BREAKTHROUGH YEARS (August 2012)

There is little doubt Mo Farah's crowning achievement was in winning the Olympic 5 and 10K in the Olympic Stadium in London on August 2012 (5000 in 13:41.66- 52.9 last lap & 10,000 in 27:30.42) BUT of course remembering that his personal best for the distances were in 2011 with 12:53.11 and 26:46.57 respectively. Those Olympic medals are something his young family will be proud of that is for sure.
   It all came together at the right time in his athletics career, helped by his professional approach to training mileage and enough sufficient altitude running in the build up to the London Games. In recent times he has been under the tutelage of Alberto Salazar in America. Salazar had not only been a good international cross country runner but as a track racer too and won the New York Marathon three times. Another thing was Mo's friend and American Champion Galen Rupp, the London silver medallist over 10,000 in 27:30.90, was able to train with Mo.
   I talked to Mo briefly in October 2009 and March 2010 and I realised he was totally focused to doing well in the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona in the Summer of 2010, more than anything else. " He said in March then "My main target is the European Championships in Barcelona and hopefully step up the distance later on but I am enjoying the 5000's!' He duly went on to win both the 5000 and 10,000 in July in 13:31.18 & 10,000 in 28:24.99. (In the latter his friend Chris Thompson from Aldershot got the silver in 28:27.33
   Mohammed Farah was born in Mogadishu, Somalia on the 23rd of March 1983 and in 1993 he moved to England.
His PE teacher Alan Watkinson at school encouraged him because he could see even at an early age he had got talent. Mo then takes up the storey
   " As a youngster I was 9th in a cross country and did not make the 8 for the English Schools but the next year I won it."
   He added "At the time you don't know what it takes to be an athlete and you learn to appreciate what you do."
   He started running for Hounslow AC as youngster and the team were successful at National level as one of his Hounslow clubmate's Scott Overall, explained " As a junior we used to go to the National Road relays at Sutton Park. I ran for Hounslow at the time. We used to be quite successful at the road relays as juniors. I was always average 10 to 15th fastest time of the day but we would be leading after 2 legs and MO FARAH handing over last. We also had Ben Whitby, Mike Simpson and Sam Haughian. Probably the best team in the country for a six stage. A lot of strong guys."
   In 1997 Mo ran 3:55.78 winning the England Schools 1500. Moving forward in time to 2005 he then ran 3:38.62 (7th) in  Zurich so over those years there was a great improvement and Alan Storey had been a help in his development.
   It was in 2006 that he first won his major title the European cross country Championships.
But as so many 'World or National Class' athletes know it is by no means a bed of roses, even if you have the talent.
Mo Farah had. He was 6th in his heat in Beijing and did not even qualify for the Final at the Olympics but like several other races it was only a stepping stone to make him even stronger as a competitor.
   He had already run several good events for Newham & Essex Beagles when I met him. It was at the Men's National Six stage at Sutton Coldfield in October of 2009.
   It was at that he explained why he joined Newham & Essex Beagles " I joined the club because my club was in Division 2 and I wanted higher competition that was three years ago now. It is good to be with the team. No pressure or anything. You come here to Sutton and run for your club it is very good."
The second time I met Mo was at the World cross country Trials & Inter-Counties at Crofton Park, Birmingham  in March 2010 and he even looked impressive with his strides in the warm up. A huge phalanx of runners sped across the hills on the first large lap and somewhere in the front group was Mo Farah, who went into the lead after two laps and ran well in the remaining one's with Andy Vernon a good second.
   A question was " A lot of runners are unable to train with others because of where they live or because  they just prefer to train on their own. Do you think it makes a difference training with other people even, if you consider one or two could be better than you at the time?
   "I train with a lot of Kenyans at Teddington which helps a lot. It does make a difference training with others and people that are better than you. You learn from them."
   Training at altitude must have helped when you won at Crofton Park
   "Definitely it is very important as there are some good guys to run against"
   Was that race at Crofton Park  a very good result for you
   "I did not run as well as I had hoped in Edinburgh (3rd over 4k CC) earlier bit it was a good race today but I would say, my run indoors was probably my favourite result."
   "It was on the 19th of August 2010 that Mo Farah took Dave Moorcroft's British record of 13:00.41 of 1982 off the books when Mo ran 12:57.94, coming  fifth in the Diamond League- Weltclasse in Zurich.
   Which surface was his favourite Cross Country, road or track
   He said straight away "Track" and the rest is history or well covered in the media!

Alastair Aitken

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