Thursday, December 20, 2007


An excerpt from an interesting IAAF article by Pat Butcher about the apparent decline of European distance running (with emphasis added):

At an individual level, the British international runner, Mohammed (Mo) Farah has shown his contemporaries the way to face up and address the situation. Farah, now 23, and current European cross country champion, was an excellent junior runner, with five English Schools titles, both in track and cross country to his credit. But like many talented youngsters, he found the transition to senior ranks, with its attendant distractions, very difficult. "I was living the student life, going to lots of clubs at night", says Farah. "I had lots of mates outside running. Inside running, I was known as a bit of a 'party animal'." 

After a series of poor performances, Farah accepted an offer from his management to go and live in a house with a group of elite Kenyans who train in London. "It was amazing", recalls Farah, describing a collection of athletes including Olympic and world champions. "But they're humble people, they don't pretend to be anything good. Living with them, learning from them, that's what did it (for me). It was a big shock but I learned that athletes live differently from normal people - they have to eat, sleep, train and rest. At the start, the Kenyan's weren't sure of me. Now they see me as one of them, because I work as hard as them. They say I run like a Kenyan."

I also learned a lot when I went out to Australia before the Commonwealth Games (early 2006), and trained with Craig Mottram (world 5000m bronze medallist). Just seeing what he does blew my mind. I said to myself, 'I don't train as hard as this. How can I compete against these guys?' If I want to be as good as him, I've got to do this and more".

Within a year, Farah brought his 5000m best down to 13.09, won silver in the European Athletics Championships in Goteborg, beat middle distance specialist Ivan Heshko in a mile, won the Dunquerque Cross against one of his Kenyan friends Micah Kogo, the fastest 10,OOOm man of 2006, and took the men's title at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. Then after a steady start, earlier this year he finished 11th in the torrid heat of the World Cross in Mombassa. 

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