Great Bri­tain Olympic su­per­power

His­tory-mak­ing Bri­ton will take it year by year ‘At the minute I’m in the tun­nel and will carry on’

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Hay­ward

Pic­ture the scene: Sir Mo Farah, at the ripe old age of 37, rais­ing his hands to his head in ‘Mobot’ cel­e­bra­tion as he crosses the marathon fin­ish line at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

As im­plau­si­ble as it seems, it may yet be­come a re­al­ity. Fresh from com­plet­ing a his­toric dou­ble­dou­ble of Olympic 5,000 me­tres and 10,000m ti­tles in Rio, Bri­tain’s great­est long-dis­tance run­ner whet­ted the ap­petite for the tan­ta­lis­ing prospect of lin­ing up in Ja­pan at what would be his fourth Olympic ap­pear­ance.

“My feel­ing is that I want to con­tinue to Tokyo, but you have to be hon­est with your­self,” he said. “I owe it to my kids and my fam­ily, so I will take it one year at a time.

“When I line up, I’m in a tun­nel – I close every­thing and that tun­nel is all you can see. That’s what drives me and that’s why I’ve be­come suc­cess­ful and won medals.

“But the day you feel like you can’t see straight ahead of you – you can see cor­ners and stuff – that’s when you have to hang it up. At the minute I’m still in that tun­nel and I want to con­tinue.”

The signs from Rio sug­gest there is no rea­son for him to stop any time soon. As he de­stroyed his ri­vals in a ninth suc­ces­sive global fi­nal to re­tain his Olympic 5,000m ti­tle on Satur­day night, ev­ery bril­liant at­tribute he pos­sesses was ev­i­dent in abun­dance.

The self-as­sured bid­ing of time as he sat at the back of the pack and waited, the cool ease with which he glided his way to the head of the field when the time was right, and the scin­til­lat­ing kick in the fi­nal lap – all were present and cor­rect. In fact, his fi­nal lap of 52.83 sec was even faster than the split he recorded en route to vic­tory at Lon­don 2012.

If his 33 years are start­ing to catch up with him, there is lit­tle sign of it. In­stead, the more per­ti­nent is­sue is one of mo­ti­va­tion.

Hav­ing dou­bled the next best haul of Olympic ti­tles achieved by a sin­gle Bri­tish track and field ath­lete, it is en­tirely un­der­stand­able for Farah, a fa­ther of four, to be­gin pay­ing closer at­ten­tion to his role as a par­ent.

“It is hard,” he ad­mit­ted. “The light turns off some­times, be­cause you miss your kids, you miss your fam­ily and you want a nor­mal life. That’s the only thing that re­ally gets me down or makes me think twice about what I do, but it has been worth it. You can’t re­place this gold medal – it’s one mo­ment, you’ve got to make the most of that op­por­tu­nity and that’s what I have done.

“I do miss my kids [when I’m away] six months of the year. That is one of the hard­est things for me. When you see them cry, when you see them not eat­ing well, be­ing a fa­ther and hav­ing four kids is not easy and see­ing my wife strug­gle, that’s the hard part.

“You ask what more can I do? I owe it to my kids and my fam­ily, so I will take it one year at a time.

“Now I’m head­ing to the World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don 2017. I owe that to the peo­ple to turn up on the track.”

His pres­ence at the Lon­don Sta­dium next sum­mer is cer­tain. Farah will yet again head to his spir­i­tual home town – even if he is now based in Port­land, Ore­gon – as favourite to com­plete yet an­other 5,000m and 10,000m dou­ble be­fore calling time on his track ca­reer and con­cen­trat­ing on road­run­ning full-time, hav­ing fin­ished eighth on his marathon de­but two years ago.

For now, Farah’s im­me­di­ate plans are to spend time with his fam­ily, be­fore one fi­nal com­pet­i­tive race for the year at the Great North Run in New­cas­tle next month. From there he will be long over­due a hol­i­day and some time to re­flect on his achieve­ments in Rio.

“I used to dream of be­com­ing Olympic cham­pion once, so to do it twice and come back again and again is pretty amaz­ing,” he said.

“I re­mem­ber see­ing Haile Ge­brse­lassie and Paul Ter­gat in Syd­ney [at the 2000 Olympics] and won­der­ing if I could be­come Olympic cham­pion. I was in school at the time. I had a poster in my room of that mo­ment printed in one of the papers and had it on my wall and think­ing: ‘I want to be Olympic cham­pion.’ ”

From a teenager idol­is­ing his child­hood he­roes to a four-time Olympic cham­pion, is it now time to say Arise, Sir Mo?

“That would be amaz­ing,” he said. “Know­ing where I grew up, where I come from, the jour­ney I have taken. I didn’t even dream of be­com­ing Olympic cham­pion, let alone four times.

“I re­mem­ber Sir Alex Fer­gu­son got it be­cause he was at Manch­ester United and Sir Steve Red­grave for what he did. To be in the same cat­e­gory as them would be pretty amaz­ing.”

‘The light turns off some­times be­cause you miss your kids, fam­ily, and you want a nor­mal life’

Giv­ing his all: Mo Farah sprints for the line as he claims his sec­ond gold medal

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