Joe Fournier, 32
A Monaco-born British businessman, Fournier (left in picture) owns a global string of high-end nightclubs and restaurants, including London's Whisky Mist. A former England basketball player, he has also worked on blockbuster movies such as 'Casino Royale' and 'Quantum of Solace' as an on-set personal trainer. He divides his time between London and Miami
At secondary school, we had this road run around the school property over three laps: anything under 15 minutes was good; less than 12 minutes was amazing. Mo, who'd just joined the school, did it in six minutes and 50 seconds, breaking a record that had stood for 100 years, all at the age of 13. Everyone was like, who is this kid? I was like, he's cool!
Where we grew up in Teddington was a rough neighbourhood. But we didn't smoke or drink; we were always around the sports hall instead. He was an England schoolboys athlete and I was an England basketball captain, though we were both on the same path, with sponsorship from Nike. He was a nice kid, as he was so humble: at county 1,500m events he'd lap the guys twice, but when he'd win, he'd thank God afterwards – his religious beliefs still keep him grounded.
When I left England to play professionally, he stayed, and joined Team GB, but we stayed in touch and after I retired [because of a leg injury] we hung out again in London; we'd go out for meals and play video games.
He's someone who inspires by positivity in life. When he was younger, people always said, "He's never going to beat the Kenyans – he's just another good British athlete." But I knew he was a phenomenon, and when he won the Olympics double, no one was saying that any more. He made the whole town proud.
I could bet my life and all that I have in the bank that he'd never even dream of doping. I can tell he's not on anything – he's just a freak of nature! Look at Mo when he kicks down, he looks like a sprinter, while a lot of the other long-distance runners flail around with their arms. He's too honest to himself and too good – and he was at a world-class level even before he got Alberto Salazar as his coach.
Since I bought my new house in Miami, we are on closer time zones [Farah lives in Oregon on the west coast of America], so we speak every week, and it's reignited our friendship.
While he's extremely humble, I'm more out there: he'll say, "I'm just lucky," but I wouldn't say that about my own success – I'm like, no, I worked bloody hard and I've achieved a lot.
For him, it's still all about family and athletics, while I have diversified a bit more. He teases me about my [partying] shots on Instagram. The guy is so driven that sometimes while I'm hungover in bed after a 12-hour bender, he posts me a picture of himself doing hill sprints, and it makes me feel crap about myself!
Ten British Gold Medal Prospects At Rio 2016
Ten British Gold Medal Prospects At Rio 2016
1/10 CHARLOTTE DUJARDIN - Individual Dressage
The defending Olympic champion in the individual and team dressage disciplines, barely a competition seems to go by in which the 29-year-old Dujardin and her horse, Valegro, do not increase their standing with yet more world records. The pair are looking invincible. Prospects: 24 carat gold
Steve Parsons/PA Wire
2/10 GILES SCOTT - Sailing (Finn class)
Arguably one of the best sportsmen to not feature at an Olympics, Scott has suffered the misfortune of competing in the same event as Sir Ben Ainslie with only one spot available. But Ainslie’s Olympic ambitions are now over. Prospects: Gold digger
3/10 WOMEN'S TEAM PURSUIT - Cycling
Once unbeatable, the trio of riders, which later became a quartet – Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell, with Dani King vying to win her place back – went four years without a defeat before being outdone by Australia at the World Championships in Paris in February. Such is British Cycling’s ability to peak at the right time, expect them to be back on top next year. Prospects: Going for gold
4/10 ALISTAIR BROWNLEE - Triathlon
Only fifth in the world, but the Olympic champion had a late start to the season. He has won two of his three races in 2015 and his rivalry with Spain’s Javier Gomez will be captivating up to the Games. Prospects: Going for gold
5/10 SCOTT BRASH - Individual Show Jumping
The multi-million-pound horse Hello Sanctos has helped put Brash, a gold medallist at London 2012 in the team event, comfortably at the top of the world rankings. He is currently on course to become the first rider to win showjumping’s Triple Crown. Prospects: Going for gold
6/10 MO FARAH - Athletics – 5,000m and 10,000m
Britain’s leading athlete may have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons in past weeks but he remains the world’s leading distance runner. A repeat of that golden double over the 5,000m and 10,000m will be a hard ask but the Londoner ought to come out on top in at least one. Prospects: Going for gold
7/10 WOMEN'S PAIR - Rowing
Helen Glover and Heather Stanning halted their successful partnership in 2012 so the latter could resume military duties. Now reunited, they are gradually getting back to being the sport’s powerhouses. Prospects: 24 carat gold
8/10 MEN'S COXLESS FOUR - Rowing
British Rowing has turned its attention to the eight as the lead boat this year in order to qualify for the Olympic Games. However, the coxless four will once more be the No 1 boat for Team GB in Rio. The make-up of the boat is still unknown but Britain will be bidding to achieve a fifth straight win in the event at the Games.
9/10 KATARINA JOHNSON-THOMPSON - Heptahlon
The 22-year-old from Liverpool has just one Olympic appearance to her name dating back to London, where she finished 15th while Jessica Ennis shone. But she has become the world’s leading female eventer and ought to be Olympic favourite. Prospects: Going for gold
10/10 JADE JONES - Taekwondo 57kg
Ranked second in the world behind Eva Calvo Gomez, the attack-minded Jones beat the Spaniard at last year’s World Grand Prix and was recently crowned the first European Games champion. She believes the world title would have been hers if not for a scoring system error. Prospects: Gold digger
Mo Farah, 32
A Somali-born British athlete, Farah is the current Olympic, World and European champion over 5,000m and 10,000m. He also holds the English London Marathon record of two hours, eight minutes following his marathon debut in 2014. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two daughters
We grew up in a tough neighbourhood and we'd see things happen. But being athletes changed things for us. At school, he was the guy who used to do all the events: he could do sprints and the long jump, which he was pretty good at, while I'd just do long-distance. He was a big guy, funny and outgoing; he'd talk to anyone, really, and we became friends. I would run everywhere, and after school, while he was waiting to catch the bus, he'd see me running back home and he'd shout, "Oh, man, what you doing running all that way?"
When he started playing basketball I didn't know how good he was until I saw him play: he had great skills and he got picked for England. We both ended up getting a sponsorship early on, and we had a photoshoot together: him with a basketball and me running.
He's not exactly a hustler, though he was always the smart guy, who found ways to get things done. When we were leaving school, he already had this yellow two-seater MG.
Afterwards we both went on to train at St Mary's: athletics and basketball. Once he joined in for one of the training sessions for a lap, in his jeans. He tried to keep up, but he couldn't. When we weren't training we'd go out, or we played a lot of Fifa: we'd argue about who would play as Arsenal.
Basketball and athletics are two very different things, but I know how hard it must have been when he got injured and had to retire. When he didn't make it in basketball, he made it everywhere else. I'm proud of him.
His worst habit is drinking! He's got clubs in London and if I'm in the UK, he invites me, and I'm like, "Mate, I'm married!" I'm done with that stuff: I don't go clubbing; if I go out, it's to enjoy an evening with the missus! We lead very different lives: now when I text him that I've done a 20-mile run on a Sunday morning, he'll say, "Man, how do you do it?"
I saw him in Birmingham recently [for the Grand Prix in June, which Farah withdrew from, citing stress over doping allegations concerning his coach Alberto Salazar]. We had a chat, remembering stories and the banter back in the day. And with all this stuff that's been going on with me, Joe said, "I'm here if you need anything, man – just keep doing what you're doing, it's the right thing."
Joe is a friend I grew up with, and he'll always be the same old Joe to me. We both know where we've come from. And he doesn't see me any different from when I was younger. But if I met someone else now, I'd have to ask the question: do they like me as who I am, or because of what I've achieved?
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