Mo Farah hails Britain’s multicultural society for helping him win double Olympic gold
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Sunday 12 August 2012
Mo Farah today hailed the role of Britain’s multicultural society in helping him to his double gold medal Olympic performance, saying it had provided him with the opportunity to shine.
Speaking the morning after he had been roared to victory in the 5,000m from sofas across the land, the 29-year-old paid homage to his own background after coming to Britain from Somalia as an eight-year-old boy with little English and finding himself in the west London suburb of Hounslow.
He said: “It is amazing. As a kid growing up in London, coming from Somalia, sport was a big thing for me. My story shows no matter what or where you come from, if you work hard at something [in Britain] you can achieve it. And it was amazing the support I got from the crowd.”
The athlete, who still had ringing in his ears London 2012 chairman Lord Coe’s description of him as probably Britain’s greatest ever runner, revealed that he had left a space on the wall of his home in Oregon, where he trains under coach Alberto Salazar, for his Olympic trophies, next to a framed shirt signed by the players of his beloved Arsenal.
The soon-to-be father of twins revealed how important his move to America last year had been in ensuring his development after he fell into a period after the 2008 Beijing Olympics of finishing sixth or seventh in races.
He said: “If I didn't make that change I don't think I would have been here today and competing with those guys. I knew it was the right thing because I was weak. Alberto said I run like a girl, in terms of not using my arms when I'm sprinting, when I'm tired I'm all over the place. It needed to change so if I wanted to be better it was the place to be.”
The thoroughly down-to-earth national hero, who expressed pleasant surprise that his friend Usain Bolt had adopted his “Mobot” pose as he crossed the line in the 4x100m final, said his immediate plans consisted of going for a training run today evening and thinking about buying himself “a nice car”.
When asked if he had thought about the possibility of a knighthood being bestowed upon him by a grateful nation, the idea seemed perhaps as unreal as the idea of two gold medals hanging around his neck had seemed 16 days ago. He said: “Yeh, right.”
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