Athletics: Farah takes a long-distance viewpoint after quick start

Athlete of the year faces stiff test with old housemates

Down Twickenham way, not all is doom, gloom and fear of what 2007 might hold in store. In contrast to his near neighbours at England's rugby union HQ, where the Webb Ellis Cup rests on borrowed time, Mo Farah is busy gathering an impressive collection of freshly acquired silverware, and some gold too.

Back in August, the Somali refugee who settled in London aged eight took the 5,000m silver medal at the track-and- field European Championships in Gothenburg. In December, he struck gold at the European Cross Country Championships at San Giorgio su Legnano in northern Italy. In between, the 23-year-old collected the British Athletics Writers' Association's Male Athlete of the Year trophy. He was the first distance runner to receive the award since Brendan Foster in 1976.

Not that Farah was aware of that little milestone until he took time out from training on Friday at the UK Athletics High Performance Centre for Endurance, based within St Mary's College in Twickenham, to publicise his appearance in the 3,000m at the Norwich Union European Indoor Trials in Sheffield on 10 and 11 February and in an intriguing cycling-style "devil-take-the-hindmost" mile race at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in Birmingham on 17 February.

"Wow!" he exclaimed when the gap back to Foster's reign was pointed out to him. "I have looked at the names on the trophy - Steve Cram, Colin Jackson, Daley Thompson - but I didn't realise I was the first distance runner since Brendan Foster. There are so many names on the trophy; it's incredible to have my name alongside them."

A year ago, he was just another former junior star (the European junior 5,000m champion of 2001) struggling to make a name for himself as a senior international. His breakthrough came in Heusden, Holland, last July, when he improved his 5,000m personal best by 21 seconds, clocking 13min 9.40sec and catapulting to second behind Dave Moorcroft on the UK all-time list.

Taking silver at the European Championships, a tantalising 0.09sec behind Jesus España of Spain, endorsed Farah's new-found credentials, as did his winning run in the European Cross Country Championships last month. At Continental level, the adopted Londoner has established himself as a major player in the distance-running game. In the global scheme, however, he still has some way to go.

Farah's Heusden run was good enough for only 39th place in the world rankings for 2006, and his progress in 2007 will be judged on how he fares against the Africans and the rest at the World Championships in Osaka in August. With that in mind, while he aims to contest the 3,000m at the European Indoor Championships on home ground at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on 2 to 4 March, his principal target leading towards the outdoor track season is the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa on 24 March.

"I've got to think ahead here," Farah reflected. "It's taken me years to get to where I am now, and to make the step up to the next level means racing against guys who are world champions, guys who are in a completely different class. I believe it's possible for me to do it, but I don't know how long it will take."

At 23, Farah has time on his side - as well as Alan Storey and Mark Rowland, who oversee his training at St Mary's College. He also has the knowledge he gained from the time he spent living in a house full of world-class Kenyan runners in Teddington, before he moving into a house in Twickenham for British runners based at St Mary's.

Today, Farah runs against a former Kenyan housemate, Micah Kogo, in the annual international cross-country race at Amorebieta in northern Spain. Next Saturday he faces España, his Gothenburg conqueror, in the EventScotland Great Edinburgh International Cross Country meeting in Holyrood Park.

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'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
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