Few and Farah Between
In the first of five articles profiling five British Muslim athletes participating at the London Olympics this summer, we start with one man who has been described as "the greatest male distance runner that Britain has ever seen" and is the only ever participant to beat ITV’s game show The Cube.
Mohamed Farah, commonly known as Mo Farah, was born in Somalia in 1983 but moved to Britain at the age of eight to West London. A teacher of his noticed his running potential and guided him towards athletics ahead of Farah’s other loves of football and Arsenal. Farah won five English Schools’ titles as a teenager and finished fifth, aged just 16, in the junior race at the 1999 European Cross Country Championships.
Farah made his mark at the European Athletics Junior Championships in 2001 where he won the 5,000m and by 2006 he was winning silver in the main European Championships and gold in the European Cross Country Championship. Farah had a poor Olympic Games in 2008 when he was eliminated before the final of the 5,000m but in 2009 won the 3,000m European Indoor Championships and successfully defended it in 2011, whilst at the 2011 World Championships he won silver in the 10,000m and gold in the 5,000m before being named European athlete of the year for 2011 and coming third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. An impressive collection of victories and accolades and a hurt from the last Olympic Games which can only aid his pursuit of gold this time round on home soil.
His versatility in running has seen him compete in numerous distances including the 5,000m and 10,000m (which he’ll competing in this year) as well as 1,500m, 3,000m, the half-marathon and also cross–country running, and Farah his sights on going up to marathon distance after the Olympics.
Farah is not shy in concealing his Islamic faith and can often be seen prostrating after races. Farah also conducts charity work and is a supporter of the Muslim Writer’s Award. His appearance and victory on ITV’s The Cube netted his charity, the Mo Farah Foundation which provides aid to people facing starvation and disease in East Africa, a cool £250,000.
And he’s in good shape leading up to the Olympics having won his last race, though his rivals also look good with a number of them having run faster than Farah’s personal best - that should make his races even more interesting!