RW Interviews: Mo Farah

Step aside head coach Alberto Salazar, the European 10,000m record holder Mo Farah reveals why his sternest critic is his six-year-old daughter Rihanna



mo farah, nike, deagu, iaaf, orgeon project, Alberto Salazar

Mo Farah has emerged as one of the greatest British distance runners of all time. On his current run of nine unbeaten races, it has become a thrillingly regular occurrence to watch unstoppable Mo smash records over 5,000 and 10,000m.

After breaking the British 10,000m record for the second time, the world watched in awe on June 4, as he crushed his opponents at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon, shaving a whopping 40 seconds off his PB and setting a new European 10,000m record (26:46:57).

Mo's transformation, both in speed and confidence, must be at least partly attributed to his move to the US, six months ago, to train with top coach Alberto Salazar. No longer just a leading British athlete, Mo is now a contender for double middle-distance gold at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu next month.

As the medals stack up and the records tumble, we were delighted to meet the same down-to-earth Mo who remains obsessed with Arsenal FC, star struck around Paula Radcliffe and who faces a stern telling off from his biggest critic - his six-year-old daughter Rihanna - if he doesn't bring home a medal.

There has been some speculation you might just be competing in the 10,000m in Daegu? What are the chances of you trying for the double?

I'm definitely running the 10,000m, because that's the first race I'm entered in. I've been misquoted a little and I'd like to correct that. I said that I'd like to put all my eggs in one basket in terms of the 10,000m and I'll give it 110 per cent. If my body lets me, I'll come back for the 5,000m. I'm entered for both events so it all depends on my recovery and how I feel - I'll take it from there.

Who is your biggest threat in the 10,000m?

It's definitely the Kenyans and Ethiopians. There's always someone new coming through, so you never know who will be your biggest threat, but I'll just give it my best shot.

How confident are you about taking gold after your unbeaten streak this year?

I'm confident I can get close to a medal, but you never know. I'm not going to say, "I'm going to get gold." It's not as simple as thinking I'll run the fastest time and take gold, it never is, it's a very tactical race. In the last two World Championships I placed sixth and seventh and I was half a second or a second from a medal. Hopefully, I've learned from my experiences and now I can go in with more confidence.

You always seem to be an athlete with a clear goal. What is it at the moment?

Just to focus on the World Championships, not to have any distractions and to stay injury free. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing. I've got a nice support crew, a great coach and all I need to do is keep working hard.

What's it like working with Alberto Salazar?

Alberto is a great coach and he has an amazing team with him. We have a psychologist, Dr Darren Treasure, who works alongside us. We use the guys who worked with Michael Johnson to analyse my running technique in track sessions. We focus on every aspect of performance to improve my running - that's the biggest difference from how I used to train in the UK.

How radical are the changes Alberto has made to your training regime? Have you had to go back to basics and adjust everything from nutrition to recovery?

He has made adjustments, but slowly. I've always been good with my nutrition and diet, so there hasn't been any problem with that. The shift has been to start using psychologists and doing extra bits on the side like training with an underwater treadmill.

Tell us more about this underwater treadmill...

Well, I'm very lucky to be part of the Oregon Project  [where Alberto Salazar trains America's top distance runners in Beaverton, Oregon with the full disposal of Nike's resources]. There's only six of us and we get to access some amazing facilities. One of those is the underwater treadmill, which means you can run extra miles without the same injury risk as running outside. If you feel any niggles or if you've already clocked up more than 100 miles that week, you can just add a few extra miles on the side. I probably use it three or four times a week now.

Has working with the psychologists changed your confidence level going into races?

I've always been confident, but once you start winning, it really whets your appetite for more. Winning in Barcelona gave me a lot more confidence and now I have Alberto as a coach, I know I'll still be up there with the guys with one or two laps to go.

What do you miss most about the UK?

My football team Arsenal FC and British television, you always miss that.

Every week we seem to be announcing on Facebook and Twitter that you're smashing new British and European records. How long until the world record is under threat?

You have to take it one step at a time. I've said all along that if I wanted to be competing with these guys, then I'd need to run sub-13:00 and beyond. I'm doing that now but there's still a long way to go to get near the world record. As an athlete you always want a world record time, so I'll get Daegu out the way and see how fast I can push myself next year.

Do you know whether you'll attempt the double in London 2012?

I haven't thought that far ahead to be honest, we just take one race and one event at a time. I'll get this year over with and then start making decisions about London 2012 - we'll have to see what the boss says.

So London 2012 isn't on your radar at all?

You are thinking about it and you know it's there, but you have to try and just take it one race at a time. Once Daegu is over, it'll be more of a focus.

On the next page: Mo reveals his marathon plans, the athletes that inspire him and his ultimate career ambition.


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