Sir Mohamed Muktar Jama Farah, popularly known as Mo Farah, is one of the most successful British track athletes in modern Olympics history and a European and world record holder in multiple events. Born on this day in 1983 in Mogadishu, Somalia, he moved to Britain when he was eight. His family had to flee their homeland after political tensions arose in Mogadishu.
He went on to be based in London and represented Hounslow at cross-country in the London Youth Games. He attended Isleworth and Syon School, and Feltham Community College and at the age of 13 (1996), he entered the English schools cross-country and finished ninth. The following year, he went on to win the first of five English school titles.
Farah’s talent was recognised by athletics philanthropist Eddie Kulukundis, who paid for his legal naturalisation process and later his skills were identified by physical education teacher Alan Watkinson. His first major title was in the 5000 metres at the European Athletics Junior Championship in 2001, the same year he began training at St Mary’s University College, in Twickenham.
Since then, Farah went on to become the most decorated athlete in British history, with ten global titles and is also the first British athlete to win two gold medals at the same world championship event. As the track legend turns 38, let’s take a look at some of his impressive records and achievements:
• Two gold medals at the 2006 European Cross-Country Championship, in San Giorgio Su LegNano.
• Two silver medals at the 2009 European Cross-Country Championships, in Dublin.
• Two gold medals at the 2010 European Championships, held in Barcelona.
• Two gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games, London.
• Captured two gold medals at the 2014 European Championships, in Zurich.
• Two gold medals at the 2016 Olympic Games, in Rio de Janerio.
Overall, he holds the European track record for the 10,000m, the British road record for the 10,000m, the British indoor record in the 3000m, the British track record for the 5000m, the British half-marathon record and the European indoor record for 5000m, among others.
Thanks to his multiple achievements and records, Farah has more bling (medals) hanging around his neck than ‘Mr. T’. But the multiple world and Olympic champion was not bereft of controversies in his career. His first drug test miss came in 2010, just before his 5000m record in Britain. He missed a couple more ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.
Just before the 2014 London Marathon, Farah repeatedly denied to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of taking a legal supplement. Farah was asked by USADA whether he had been injected with L-carnitine, a naturally occurring amino acid, as part of its investigation into his former coach Alberto Salazar.
The supplement was reportedly obtained through a contact of Salazar’s in Switzerland. As a result of the investigation, Salazar was banned from athletics for four years over doping violations. Farah ended his relationship with the American coach in 2017, since then has never failed a drugs test and is not accused of any wrongdoing. While, Salazar has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Farah, who hung up his spikes in 2017, had recently announced that he will return to defend his gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.