There are champions and there are champions! Sir Mo Farah is without question a national British treasure. An inspiration to aspiring athletes and an example of what hard work, sacrifice and determination can produce. Sir Mo tells us how he got there – the highs and the lows of his extraordinary journey…
When did you first realise you were born to run?
When I was at school. A big moment for me was when I was invited to the British Olympics Futures Camp in Florida when I was 14. That’s when I knew I was good at running and wanted to keep doing it! Who inspired you the most?
Who inspired you the most?
My old PE teacher Alan Watkinson has been a big influence on my career and helped me to take up running in the first place. He was brilliant and drove me to the running club after school and on Sunday mornings. You need somebody who believes in you and will push you. I was lucky to have him.
Did you have any other jobs before running?
I always knew that I was going to be an athlete as I was always running and started competing very young. I went to university with a scholarship to St Mary’s, so that pathway was very clear to me. While at Uni, I worked at fast food chains and I was an assistant in a sports shop too.
Which of your many wins means the most to you?
It has to be the 10,000m and 5,000m at the London 2012 Olympics. Competing at home was amazing and the support was incredible. I have never experienced anything like it. My family joined me on the track after the race; it was one of the best moments of my life.
What drives you on?
Family and winning medals for my country.
Who advises you on diet and nutrition?
I work closely with my coach to make sure I have the right diet and nutrition. I normally space out small meals throughout the day rather than have breakfast, lunch and dinner. The smaller meals are usually pasta, chicken, rice, tuna, salad and vegetables.
When and what do you eat before a race?
Race day is a bit different. I don’t want anything that might affect me during a race so I like to keep it plain. As races are usually mornings, I often have porridge. How much is talent and how much is hard work? Of course, talent helps but it doesn’t matter how talented you are if you don’t work hard. With hard work, discipline and graft, anything is possible. For a long time, I didn’t push myself and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I decided that if I wanted to keep up with the best, I would have to work harder and make more sacrifices. Training hard became my number one priority.
How do you control your nerves before a race?
I used to get nervous before a race, especially at the start line. You just have to think positively and have the confidence to think you can do it.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions before a big run?
I think every athlete has a pre-race ritual to get focused. Mine is to shave my head.
“I decided that if I wanted to keep up with the best, I would have to work harder and make more sacrifices”
How do you manage defeat?
Of course, it isn’t easy, but you have to just accept hard defeat, re-evaluate and work even harder. And victory?
I won my four medals for my kids, so I celebrate by spending time with them.
What advice can you give to the next generation of aspiring athletes?
Believe in yourself and keep working as hard as you can. It’s also important to listen to your coach and surround yourself with people who believe in you.
And tips for parents..
Just to always encourage and support your kids.
How do you balance training with family life?
It is really difficult as I am away training a lot of the year, so our family time is precious. When I come home, I make sure to focus on them entirely.
Would you like any of your children to follow in your footsteps?
My main aim is for them to be happy and to find something they are truly passionate about. I’m lucky to do something I loved and that really motivated me from a young age – I can only wish the same for them.
How did the Mobot come about?
The Mobot actually came about when I was on the show ‘A League of Their Own’ with James Corden. It was suggested that I create a signature victory pose to match Usain Bolt’s and Clare Balding suggested the ‘M’ pose just like the one from the YMCA. We then named it the Mobot!
What do you do to relax?
Because I spend so much time away from my family, I like to spend time with them to relax. Mainly getting involved with the kids, having nice family meals and chilling out. Family time is so important.
Which football team do you support?
I’m a big Arsenal supporter. I often take the kids to The Emirates and we have a season ticket!
What career would you have chosen if not athletics?
Growing up I wanted to be a right winger for Arsenal, but aside from that I thought I was going to become a car mechanic.
Tell us about your charity work.
I am proud to be an ambassador for Save the Children. They do incredible work around the world and I am delighted to help spearhead the Global Malnutrition Initiative. It will reach thousands
of children in need and change for good the way malnutrition is prevented, diagnosed and treated in some of the world’s most fragile countries.
Your motto for life?
My life motto is ‘go hard or go home’. I repeat it to myself while I’m training. You train hard, give your all and then you can go home, rest up and chill out with your family.
Photography : (c) LES MILLS IMAGES , @GOMOFARAH (Insta)