Farah Scores Long Distance Double

Muslim Matters

Farah Scores Long Distance Double

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com


Britain’s Mo Farah reacts as he wins the men’s 5000m final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in this August 11, 2012 file photo. The first Briton to win a long-distance gold, Farah was only the seventh man to do the Olympic 5,000/10,000 double.   

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Somalian-British long distance won the Olympic gold medal in the men’s 5000 meter race, just a week after winning the men’s 10,000 meter. He won the 5000 meter in 13min 41.66secs, fighting off Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebreskel, who took silver, and Kenya’s Thomas Longosiwa, who took the bronze.

Farah is only the seventh man to achieve the 5000m-10,000m long distance double, adding his name to a list of runners that includes Czech Emil Zatopek, Finland’s Lasse Viren and Ethiopians Miruts Yifter and Kenenisa Bekele.

“I’m just amazed – two gold medals, who would have thought that?” said Farah, who moved to Britain at the age of eight after being born in Somalia and spending some years in neighbouring Djibouti.
“I got great support from the crowd. It means a lot to me and those two medals are obviously for my two girls who are coming,” he said of the twins his wife is expecting. “I didn’t feel great in the heats, but it was pretty good. The American guy tried to come past me but I knew I just had to hold on. It’s been a long journey of grafting and grafting.”

Farah generously pays tribute to the “genius” methods of his American coach, Alberto Salazar. In just 16 months the coach known for his unorthodox use of machinery such as the cryosauna, a cooling chamber used to aid muscle recovery, an underwater treadmill, and a punishing work ethic that means Farah keeps a treadmill in his bedroom, has elevated Farah from double European champion to double Olympic champion, picking up world championship gold and silver medals along the way.

Salazar’s approach was blunt, and brutal. “Alberto said I run like a girl,” said Farah, laughing now at the indignity of it. “I was weak.” Salazar worked on Farah’s strength, upping his mileage and added in grueling hill runs which initially left the Briton struggling to cope. In the Olympic Stadium he showed how the work had paid off as he finished strongly on the home straight to take double Olympic gold.

Moving to the other side of the world to train at Salazar’s Oregon base last February was a huge risk to take so close to the London Games, Farah admits. “It felt like it was a gamble,” says the 29 year old runner, who uprooted his wife, Tania, and daughter, Rihanna, so many miles from home. “There was a lot of questions asked at the time because I was double European champion and people were like, ‘Mo why are you changing when things are going so well?’ but in your mind you knew something had to change because I was coming sixth, seventh and if I didn’t make that change I don’t think I would have been [here] today and competing with those guys.”


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