The legendary British athlete Mo Farah

Famous Nilanjan Hajra
Flashback
British Athlete
Photo : Dreamstime

The story of Mo Farah is the stuff of legend. He is a British athlete, a long-distance runner. And as of today, no other British has surpassed him as a track athlete in the history of modern Olympic games. Yet he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Born in Somalia, one of the poorest countries in the world located in sub-Saharan Africa, he was forced to become a refugee in his early childhood because of a horrendous civil war. Finally, when he arrived in Britain, he didn’t know a word of English. And his life began with the hope of becoming a car mechanic, and a dream of playing professional football.

Growing-up days

Mohammad Mukhtar Jama Farah, alias Mo Farah, was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, on March 23, 1983. Within years of his birth, a resistance movement to the military dictator turned into a violent civil war. It continues to this day and has killed nearly 500, 000 people across the country. No wonder, the British athlete had to flee his homeland and settle in a refugee camp with his twin brother.

Fortunately, his father was a British citizen, where he was an IT consultant. Mo Farah went to live with him at the age of eight. It is not difficult to imagine how challenging his teen must have been, coming to one of the biggest cities in the world, from an utterly poverty-ridden land, without a word of the local language, leaving all his friends and childhood associations behind. While growing up he also had to take up a job at McDonald’s. The British athlete attended Isleworth and Syon School and Feltham Community College. During this period, his physical education instructor spotted Mo’s rare talent. After that, he had never had to look behind.

Achievements as a British athlete

The British athlete began his successful run quite early. At the age of 14, he earned his first of five English school titles. However, he was still not a British citizen, which posed problems for his career as a British sportsperson. However, with the financial support of the noted philanthropist Sir Elias George Kulukundis, he dealt with the legal complications regarding obtaining British citizenship.

The British athlete won his first major title in the 5000 metres race at the European Athletics Junior Championship. In 2006 Mo Farah became Britain’s second fastest runner after Dave Moorcroft recording a time of 13 minutes and 9.40 seconds to run 5000 metres. In the same year he won the silver medal in the 5000 metres category in the European Championship. In 2009 the British athlete achieved gold in the European Indoor Championship in Turin. And in August 2010 Mo Farah became the first-ever British athlete to run 5000 M in less than 13 minutes, breaking Dave Moorcroft’s longtime record. In the same year the British Olympic Association named Mo Farah ‘the track-and-field athlete of the year’.

Over the next few years, the British athlete won several championships and medals and broke many records. Out of these particularly stand out his Olympics records. He took the gold in both 5000 M and 10000 M in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games. Moreover, Mo Farah became the second man, after Kenenisa Bekele, to win long-distance doubles at successive Olympics and World Championships. He was also the first in history to defend both distance titles in both major global competitions – a feat described as the ‘quadruple-double.’

The British athlete was made the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to athletics.

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