By Brian Oliver
If 2012 was the all-time high for Mohamed Farah, 2015 has run it close. And there could be more to come because the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year has yet to be decided and then there is the small matter of the New Year Honors. It could be Sir Mohamed in 2016, when Farah goes for more glory at the Rio Olympic Games.
In the World Championships in Beijing in the summer, Farah won a third straight long-distance double – 5,000m and 10,000m – to add to those at the London Olympics and the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
“We had our first boy this year, too, which was also an amazing achievement,” he says at the home in Portland, Oregon, he shares with wife Tania, baby Hussein, three-year-old twins Aisha and Amani, and Rhianna, nine.
With a growing brood, Christmas will hardly be a time for peaceful contemplation of another successful year on the track. “The house is usually full of noise, but at Christmas it’s super- loud,” laughs Farah. “The kids get so excited, and obviously it’s our first one with Hussein – and now I’m not the only man in the house!”
Will he take the day off? “Tania will cook, and she’s great in the kitchen, but I’ll still do some training and get a run in. Be somewhere in the region of ten to 15 miles – it’s a nice change as I have the roads and the track to myself.”
Such dedication has been the key to Farah’s success. No runner has been Sports Personality since Kelly Holmes in 2004, back when Farah was still struggling to make an impact in top-level athletics.
“I had just started working with my coach Alan Storey and was still training at St Mary’s University [in Twickenham]. The year before I visited my mum and brother in Somaliland and realized how much I missed them.
“I was still taking part in competitions, but it wasn’t until I started living with other professional athletes the following year that I understood the dedication it takes to reach the very top, and I really stepped up my game.
“I used to watch Sports Personality of the Year with friends. Kelly’s 1,500m gold was electric, hanging back until the end and bursting through to the front [at the Athens Olympics, where she also won at 800m]. I also remember Arsène Wenger getting coach of the year after Arsenal went the whole season unbeaten. They were the invincibles!”
Farah is such a big fan of the club he wanted to give Hussein the middle name “Arsenal” – but his wife was having none of it.
While life on the track has only got better, Farah had to deal with a controversy this year when his coach, the Brazilian Alberto Salazar, was implicated in a TV documentary about doping. Salazar was cleared by UK Athletics to work with British athletes, while Farah came out as one of many athletes who want all doping test results to be made public.
For the moment, though, he is concentrating on his running and looking ahead to Rio. “My training is going really well. There are so many great runners. It’s tough, but I wouldn’t be running 120 miles a week if I didn’t love what I do. Winning gold in my home town of London in 2012, with the crowd behind me all the way, was the best moment of my career. I still can’t quite believe it.
“Could it get better? Never say never… Even now I’ve done the “triple double” I’m still hungry for more. I can’t wait until Rio.”