Mohamed Muktar Jama "Mo" Farah is a British distance runner who is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in both the 5000 m and 10,000 m. He is just the second athlete in modern Olympic Games history to successfully defend the 5000 m and 10,000 m titles; the first one was Lasse Virén. Though he mostly competes in the 5000 m and 10,000 m, he has also enjoyed considerable success in the 1500 m and the marathon. He also holds the British indoor record in the 3000 m and the current indoor world record for the two miles. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, he moved with his family to the UK as a child in order to escape the politically chaotic situation in his home country. His initial years in the UK were difficult as he had trouble fitting in. A well-built and athletic lad, he took to sports at a young age, his first love being football. He was also very talented in athletics, an option he eventually chose. He won the English schools cross country championship – his first major national title at the age of 15 and there was no looking back. His national and international running career flourished over the years and he became one of the most decorated athletes in British athletics history.
Childhood & Early Life
Mohamed Muktar Jama "Mo" Farah was born on 23 March 1983, in Mogadishu, Somalia, as one of the six children of British-born Muktar Farah and his Somali wife. In the 1980s, Somalia was a politically chaotic nation marred by rampant violence. The Farah family was forced to move to the UK when he was a child.
His initial years in the UK were full of difficulties as he faced considerable challenges in fitting into the society as a boy from Africa. Interested in sports from a young age, he was skilled at both running and in playing football, eventually choosing running.
He ran for Newham and Essex Beagles athletics club and received training at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, from 2001 to 2011. He received considerable support from major figures like women’s marathoner Paula Radcliffe and philanthropist Sir Eddie Kulukundis who helped him in his running career and in becoming a naturalized British citizen.
Mo Farah initially trained under coach Alan Storey in 2001 and won the 5000 m at the European Athletics Junior Championship title that year.
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As a senior, Mo Farah clocked a time of 13 minutes 9.40 seconds for 5000 m to become Britain's second-fastest runner after Dave Moorcroft, in 2006. The same year he won the silver medal in the European Championship 5000 m in Gothenburg and the 2006 European Cross Country Championships in San Giorgio su Legnano, Italy.
Over the next few years he also trained in Kenya and Ethiopia following which he won European titles in 2010 in 5000 m and 10,000 m. He moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2011 to train under American coach Alberto Salazar.
The year 2011 was a highly successful one for Mo Farah. He won the gold in the 3000 m at the European Indoor Championships. He then proceeded to win the silver medal in the 10,000 m and then the gold in the 5000 m at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea, becoming the first British man to win a World Championships medal over either distance.
His career was poised to touch greater heights in 2012. At the London 2012 Olympics, he won Great Britain's first Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 m, in a time of 27:30.42. He made a long-distance double at the 2012 Olympics, when he won the 5000 m in a time of 13:41.66.
In 2013, Mo Farah broke the European 1500 m record with a time of 3:28.81 at the Herculis meeting in Monaco. With this feat, he effectively broke Steve Cram's 28-year-old British record and Fermín Cacho's 16-year-old European record. The same year, he also won the 10,000 m and 5000 m event at the World Championships in Moscow.
He was supposed to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but an illness forced him to withdraw.
In 2015, he broke the indoor two-mile world record at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix by running an 8:03.4 to break Kenenisa Bekele's record. He proceeded to win the long-distance gold medal double at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics, at the age of 32.
His amazing form continued at the 2016 Rio Olympics where he won gold medals at the 10,000 m and 5000 m, becoming the second athlete in modern Olympic Games history, after Lasse Virén, to successfully defend the 5000 m and 10,000 m titles.
Awards & Achievements
He was named the European Athlete of the Year in both 2011 and 2012.
Mo Farah was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to athletics.
Personal Life & Legacy
Mo Farah married his longtime girlfriend Tania Nell in 2010. The couple has three children. The family also includes his wife’ daughter from a previous relationship.
He launched the Mo Farah Foundation after a trip to Somalia in 2011. The following year he participated in ITV's ‘The Cube’ and won £250,000 which he contributed to the foundation.
Farah took part in the 2012 Olympic hunger summit at 10 Downing Street hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron. The purpose of the summit was to raise awareness and activity in tackling the problem of world hunger.
This Olympic gold medalist is noted for his unique victory celebration dance known as the "Mobot".
This British athlete is the first person to win the full jackpot on ITV's game show ‘The Cube’, presented by Philip Schofield.