Ahtletics: Farah's triumph caps golden day for UK

Mo Farah's collection of silver medals - six, including the one he earned in this summer's European Championships - was supplemented by a gold here yesterday as he became the first British male to win the European Cross Country title in a decade.

The 23-year-old Somali refugee had time to blow kisses and wave as he came into the finishing straight in this northern suburb of Milan before securing a win that promised even greater things for the future. A feeling of British optimism had already been established by the victory of Stephanie Twell in the women's junior race, where sterling performances from her close rivals Emily Pidgeon and Sian Edwards also helped to secure the team title.

With the women's under-23 team securing team gold in what has been introduced as a demonstration event this year, and the senior women earning a silver, it turned out to be that rare thing in recent years for UK Athletics: a day to rejoice.

For Farah, who emerged as a talented runner soon after arriving in Britain from Mogadishu as an 11-year-old, this result put a golden seal on a year of dramatic improvement. After producing the second-fastest 5,000m ever by a Briton - 13min 09.40sec - early in the season, he was beaten to the European title by fractions of a second in Gothenburg. Two weeks ago he won the Dunkirk cross-country against a field which included Micah Kogo, the Kenyan with whom he has been training at their Teddington base and who is the fastest 10,000m runner in the world this year. Before that win, Farah had been training for a month at altitude in South Africa, and on an afternoon of golden sunshine those labours continued to bear golden fruit.

"I've worked really hard for this," he said, his wide grin disclosing teeth so perfect that it surely cannot be long before he enjoys sponsorship from a toothpaste manufacturer. "Winning the race in France gave me a lot of confidence, and I felt good today. I've got a lot of silver medals - I've tried to win gold so many times."

Asked if his growing silver collection had begun to become a bit of a nag to him, he conceded: "It was a bit."

Having earned the additional distinction of breaking the run of five consecutive wins in this event for Ukraine's Sergey Lebed, Farah is now looking forward to 2007, where his plans for spring include differing tests at either end of March - the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham and the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa. Farah is young enough to be a contender both at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the Games that will be held four years later in his adopted capital, an event upon which the juniors who performed so well here have also set their sights.

The London 2012 Olympics badge glinting on Twell's vest represented a shining ambition. This win represented the biggest step she has taken so far towards the Games she is determined to contest on home soil. And the badge - worn whenever she races, or trains - is a constant symbol of intent. She even pins it to her pyjamas at night.

Twell's father, Andy - an Army Major now based in Cyprus - looked on proudly as she ran what her coach, Mick Woods, described afterwards as "a perfect race". Twell finished 15 metres clear of Norway's Karoline Grovdal and last year's winner and favourite, Ancuta Bobocel of Romania, with Pidgeon, who has missed more than a month's training recently with a heel injury, fourth and Edwards sixth. All three girls had received good-luck e-mails from Paula Radcliffe, who reminded them of how she had won on this course four years ago in the annual Campaccio race.

"I was thinking about Paula's message as I was warming up for the race," said Twell, who recently viewed the site of the London Olympic stadium from the 23rd-floor offices of the 2012 Committee chairman, Seb Coe. "It was incredible to see where I would be competing. My ambition is to do whatever it takes to be on that start line."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk