Mo Farah's Clare Balding inspired 'Mobot' comes under attack


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Given the fact that the next fastest man in the field for the 5,000 metres final on the opening day of the European Championships today is 16 seconds slower than him this summer, Mo Farah could probably perform his new celebration when he lines up in the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki this evening. The chances are that the smiling assassin of distance running will save it for when he crosses the finish line, after his premature "showboating" antics in the 1500m heats at the Olympic trials in Birmingham last Friday were yesterday described as "disrespectful" by one of his beaten rivals, who warned it could cost him Olympic gold.

It is difficult to imagine someone with such a sunny disposition as Farah causing upset but Anthony Whiteman – an Olympic 1500m veteran from 1996 and 2000 – was so enraged by the world 5,000m champion performing the "Mobot" 100m from the finish line in Birmingham that he launched a tirade in The Grimsby Telegraph. "It was out of order," said Whiteman, who entered the home straight directly behind Farah but faded to fifth and failed to qualify for the final. "It was a heat, not a final. It is not acceptable in a heat. He had not won anything.

"On the last lap Mo kept looking round to see the best time to do his showboating. It is disrespectful to the athletes behind him working their backsides off. If he spends even a second in London thinking about his celebration, he will lose. And there will be less people who care about him losing if he keeps behaving like that."

The Mobot was created when Farah appeared on the Sky One show A League Of Their Own and presenter James Corden said he should create a victory pose to match Usain Bolt's. Guest Clare Balding suggested outlining an "M" shape above his head, as in the style of YMCA and Corden christened it the Mobot.

Whiteman also criticised Farah for competing only in the heats at the trials, withdrawing from Saturday's final to concentrate on the defence of his European 5,000m crown today. "If he had just turned up to run the heat so the fans could see him, that is not athletics," Whiteman said. "That is moving away from athletics and towards celebrity. Jessica Ennis would not have done that. She is an athlete first and a celebrity second."

Farah is not the first British athlete to hit the headlines for premature celebrating. Steve Ovett delighted Crystal Palace crowds in the 1970s and 1980s by waving as he hit the front in the home straight. He famously did so in the 5,000m at the south London track in 1980 and slowed down and leaned back to raise his arms as he approached the line – only for the fast-finishing Irishman John Treacy to dip past him in a photo finish.

Gemili confirms he will run 100m for GB at Games

Adam Gemili has removed any doubt about his appearance at the Olympics. The 18-year-old from Dartford said: "My plan is to go to the Olympics and compete with the world's top sprinters and not get beaten too badly."

Gemili laid claim to a place in the GB team by finishing runner-up to Dwain Chambers in the 100m final at the trials but his coach said he was reluctant to throw his charge into the "cauldron". After being named in the British U20 team for next month's World Junior Championships in Barcelona, however, Gemili confirmed he would be accepting his Olympic place.

Simon Turnbull