Mohamed "Mo" Farah (born 23 March 1983) is a Somali-born British international track and field athlete. He is the current 10,000 metres Olympic champion and 5000 metres Olympic, World and European champion. On the track, he generally competes over 5000 m and 10,000 m, but also runs the 3000 metres and occasionally the 1500 metres. He has expressed a desire to move up to the marathon after the 2012 Summer Olympics Farah holds the European track record for 10,000 m, the British road record for 10,000 m, the British indoor record in the 3000 m, the British track record for 5000 m, the British half-marathon record, and the European indoor record for 5000 m. In July 2010, Farah won Britain's first-ever men's European gold medal at 10,000 m. He followed this with a gold in the 5000 m, becoming the 5th male athlete to complete the long-distance double at the championships and the first British man to do so. At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, he won silver the 10,000 m and gold in the 5000 m. He became double Olympic champion at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, taking gold in both the 5000 and 10,000 metres. In addition, Farah competes in cross-country running, where in December 2006 he became European champion in Italy. He also took gold in the 3000 m in both the 2009 and 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships, in Turin and Paris respectively. Farah was originally based in London and ran for Newham and Essex Beagles athletics club, training at St Mary's University College, Twickenham's sports facilities in Strawberry Hill from 2001 to 2011. In 2011 he relocated to Oregon, United States, in order to further his training with coach Alberto Salazar. Farah was also voted 2011 European Athlete of the Year from twelve nominees, with Christophe Lemaitre in second place. He won the same prize in 2012. He is an ambassador for Bupa, Lucozade Sport, Virgin Media and Nike.
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia on 23 March 1983, Farah spent the early years of his childhood in Djibouti with his twin brother. He later moved to Britain at the age of 8 years old to join his father, speaking barely a word of English. Farah's father was born in England and grew up in Hounslow, London; his parents met after his father went on holiday to Somalia. Farah attended Feltham Community College in London. His athletic talent was first identified by physical education teacher Alan Watkinson, who later said of Farah: "When I first met him, he was struggling academically and suffering from the language barrier. He needed focus and I sort of took him under my wing. His passion was football but it was his turn of speed on the pitch that showed his real talent." His ambition was to play as a right winger for Arsenal football club.
In 1996, at the age of 13, Farah entered the English schools cross country and finished ninth. The following year he won the first of five English school titles. Farah's first major title was at 5000 metres at the European Athletics Junior Championship in 2001, the same year that he began training at St Mary's University College, Twickenham. That year Farah became one of the first two athletes in the newly formed Endurance Performance Centre at St Mary’s. He lived and trained at the College, and took some modules in an access course before becoming a full-time athlete as his career progressed.
In 2005, Farah moved in with Australian Craig Mottram and a group of Kenyan runners that included 10,000 metres world number one Micah Kogo. "They sleep, eat, train and rest, that's all they do but as an athlete you have to do all those things. Running with Craig made me feel more positive," Farah said. "If I ever want to be as good as these athletes I've got to work harder. I don't just want to be British number one, I want to be up there with the best." In July 2006, Farah clocked a time of 13 minutes 9.40 seconds for 5000 m to become Britain's second-fastest runner after Dave Moorcroft. A month later Farah collected the silver medal in the European Championship 5000 m in Gothenburg. Coaches Alan Storey and Mark Rowland made sure that Farah remained competitive and a few words from Paula Radcliffe before the 5000 m final inspired Farah. He has stated that: "She said to me, 'Go out and be brave. Just believe in yourself'." In December 2006, Farah won the 2006 European Cross Country Championships in San Giorgio su Legnano, Italy. Farah represented the UK at 5000 m in the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan. Farah finished sixth in a time of 13:47.54. In May 2008, Farah ran 10,000 m events, claiming the fastest UK men's time for almost eight years. However, he was knocked out before the 5000 m final at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In January 2009, Farah set a new British indoor record in the 3000 metres, breaking John Mayock's record with a time of 7 minutes 40.99 seconds in Glasgow. A few weeks later he broke his own record by more than six seconds with a time of 7 minutes 34.47 at the UK Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham, a performance which commentator Steve Cram called "the best performance by a male British distance runner for a generation". Farah attributed his good form to a spell of winter training at altitude in Ethiopia and Kenya. In March 2009 he took gold in the 3000 m at the European Indoor Championships in Turin, recording a time of 7 minutes 40.17.
Farah competed at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics: he was in the leading pack early on in the 5000 metres race and eventually finished seventh – the best by a European runner. After the championships, he scored a victory in his first road competition over 10 miles, winning the Great South Run in 46:25 to become the third fastest Briton in spite of strong winds.
Farah was one of the favourites to upset Serhiy Lebid's dominance at the 2009 European Cross Country Championships. However, Lebid was never in contention as Farah and Alemayehu Bezabeh were some distance ahead throughout. Farah was overtaken by Bezabeh in the latter stages of the race, leaving the Briton with a second consecutive silver medal at the competition. He did not manage to attend the medal ceremony, however, as he collapsed immediately after the race and needed medical attention. After a close third place behind Edwin Soi at the BOclassic, Farah competed in the short course race at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country. He was the favourite to win and surged ahead to build a comfortable lead. However, he appeared tired in the latter stages and finished third behind British runners Ricky Stevenson and Steve Vernon. Farah again required post-race medical attention and subsequent tests revealed he had low levels of iron and magnesium. He was prescribed supplements for the condition and his high altitude training plans in Kenya were unaffected.
Farah won the 2010 London 10,000 in late May with a British road record time of 27:44, beating 10K world record holder Micah Kogo in the process. His success continued the following week at the European Cup 10,000 m. There, he improved his track best by nearly 16 seconds, finishing in a time of 27:28.86. Farah won by a margin of over forty seconds ahead of second placed Abdellatif Meftah. After training in Africa, he returned to Europe for the 2010 European Athletics Championships. He took the 10,000 metres gold medal, overtaking Ayad Lamdassem with two laps to go and finishing the race unpressured in a time of 28:24.99. This was Farah's first major title and also the first European gold medal in the event for Great Britain. He then went on to win the 5000 m from Jesus Espana, becoming only the fifth man in the 66-year history of the European Championships to achieve the 5000 m/10,000 m double, and the first for 20 years, following in the footsteps of the Czech Emil Zatopek in 1950, Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak of Poland in 1958, Finland’s Juha Vaatainen in 1971 and Salvatore Antibo, of Italy, in 1990.
On 19 August 2010, at a Diamond League meeting in Zurich, Farah ran 5000 m in 12:57.94, breaking David Moorcroft's long-standing British record and becoming the first ever British athlete to run under 13 minutes. In December 2010, Farah was named the track-and-field athlete of the year for 2010 by the British Olympic Association. He closed the year at the BOclassic and just missed out on the 10K title, losing to Imane Merga in a sprint finish by 0.2 seconds.
2011 proved to be a highly successful year for Farah, beginning on 8 January at the Edinburgh Cross Country, where he defeated the top four finishers of that year's European Championships to take victory in the long race.
In February 2011, Farah announced that he would be relocating to Portland, Oregon, USA, to work with new coach Alberto Salazar. On 19 February 2011 in Birmingham, England, he broke the European 5000 m indoor record with a time of 13:10.60, at the same time taking ten seconds off the 29-year-old British indoor record of Nick Rose. On 5 March 2011, Farah won gold in the 3000 metres at the European Indoor Championships. On 20 March, he also won the NYC Half Marathon in a time of 1:00:23, a new British record. He and training partner Galen Rupp had originally planned on running a 10,000 m race in New Zealand, but after it was cancelled due to an earthquake and damage done to the track, they entered the half-marathon in New York.
On 3 June 2011, at a Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon, USA, Farah won the Prefontaine Classic 10,000 m in 26:46.57, setting a new British and European record. On 22 July 2011, at a Diamond League meeting in Monaco, he set a new British national record in the 5000 m with a time of 12:53.11. He edged out American Bernard Lagat to win the race.
In the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, in Daegu, South Korea, Farah made a major breakthrough on the world stage by taking the silver medal in the 10,000 m and then the gold in the 5000 m. He became the first British man to win a global title over either distance. Farah had in fact been more strongly fancied to take the 10,000 m title, but was narrowly beaten in a last lap sprint by Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan. In the 5000 m, he overcame Lagat, beating him into second place. Following the race, Dave Moorcroft, former 5000 metres world record holder, hailed Farah as "the greatest male distance runner that Britain has ever seen".
On 4 August 2012, Farah won the 10,000 m gold in a time of 27:30.42. This was Great Britain's first Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 m, and came after two other gold medals for the country in the same athletics session. His training partner, Galen Rupp of the United States, took second place. Both runners are coached by Alberto Salazar. Farah stated that he would observe his Ramadan fast later in the year. On 11 August 2012, Farah made it a long-distance double, winning the 5000 metres in a time of 13:41.66. On 23 August 2012, Farah returned to the track at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, capping off a winning season with another victory over a distance of two miles.
Farah is noted for his unique victory celebration dance known as the "Mobot". He adopted the move following a television appearance in May 2012 opposite sports presenter Clare Balding on the panel game show A League of Their Own. The host James Corden suggested to the panelists that they should think of a new dance to mark Farah's winning celebration, and Balding subsequently came up with the "M" gesture called "Mobot". While demonstrating it for the first time, she indicated that the part of the move intended to represent the "M" in "Mo" was inspired by the dance to "Y.M.C.A.", a popular song by the Village People. Corden himself then named it as the "Mobot". A robot was named "Mobot" at a university research exhibition, in honour to Farah's celebration.
In April 2010, Farah married his longtime girlfriend Tania Nell in Richmond, London. Other athletes at the wedding included Paula Radcliffe, Steve Cram, Hayley Yelling, Jo Pavey, Mustafa Mohamed and Scott Overall, who was an usher. Farah has a stepdaughter from this relationship called Rihanna. He and his wife also have twin daughters born in August 2012, named Aisha and Amani.
Farah is a Muslim, and an active supporter of the Muslim Writers Awards. He is also a fan of Arsenal F.C.
Farah is additionally involved in various philanthropic initiatives, launching the Mo Farah Foundation after a trip to Somalia in 2011. The following year, he participated in ITV's The Cube and won £250,000 for his foundation, becoming the first person ever to beat the Cube. Along with other high profile athletes, Farah also participated in the 2012 Olympic hunger summit.
In addition, Farah has endorsement deals with a number of companies, including Nike and Lucozade. He is expected to earn more than £2 million in advertising and sponsorship revenue after having completed double gold medals in the 10,000 m and 5,000 m at the 2012 Olympic Games. According to the brand consulting firm BrandRapport, Farah would still have made large sums of money even if he had not managed a second gold medal. The success of the UK team in general at the London Olympics and the enthusiasm surrounding the event has reportedly paved the way for future endorsement deals that dwarf those previously offered to British Olympic athletes.
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