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Farah stars, with support

By Isaac Fanin

Mohammed Farah
Farah looks to be an Olympic champion of the future

Mo Farah arrived in Britain in 1993 from Mogadishu, Somalia, speaking barely a word of English.

In 2006 he won the European cross country title at San Giorgio su Legnano, Italy and took silver at the European Championships in Gothenburg.

Now he has next month's World Championships in Osaka firmly in his sights but he is quick to admit his athletic achievement has hinged on the help of others.

When he arrived in England, Farah's talent was seen straight away by PE teacher Alan Watkinson.

"Alan was a big part of my career," the 20-year-old told BBC Sport after completing a training session with a group of promising athletes from his old school, Isleworth and Syon.

Watkinson himself told the BBC website: "It was obvious from the beginning that he was talented."

If you have the talent and you put in effort, this is what can be achieved

Alan Watkinson
Farah's former PE teacher

Success in athletics wasn't always Farah's dream. In his early teens all he wanted to do was play football.

But, ironically, it was his love for football that brought him closer to athletics. Watkinson would offer Farah the incentive of playing football for 30 minutes in the gym before taking him to the running club.

In 1996, Farah entered the English schools cross country at the age of 13. He finished ninth.

A year later, Watkinson said: "Win this year and I'll buy you a football shirt."

Farrah did, and went on to amass five English school titles. His first major title was at the European Junior Championships in 2001.

I don't just want to be British number one, I want to be up there with the best

Mo Farah

Coaches Alan Storey and Mark Rowland made sure that Farah remained competive and a few words from Paula Radcliffe before the 5000m final in the European Championships really inspired Farah.

"She said to me, 'Go out and be brave. Just believe in yourself'," Farah said after his thrilling race.

The marathon star had encountered Farah before, giving him money to go towards his training.

In 2005, Farah made a important move, literally, moving in with Australian Craig Mottram and a group of Kenyan runners that included 10,000m world number one Micah Kogo.

"They sleep, eat, train and rest, that's all they do but as an athlete you have to do all those things. Running with Craig made me feel more positive," he said.

"If I ever want to be as good as these athletes I've got to work harder. I don't just want to be British number one, I want to be up there with the best."

Meanwhile, his old PE teacher often uses Farah as an example to talented young sportsmen and sportswomen.

Said Watkinson: "Mo's story shows that if you have the talent and you put in effort, this is what can be achieved."



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see also
Farah pulls out of Italian event
28 Mar 07 |  Athletics
Lebid outfoxes Farah in Edinburgh
13 Jan 07 |  Athletics
Farah feels Radcliffe effect
06 Dec 06 |  Athletics
Pregnant Radcliffe still training
09 Oct 06 |  Athletics


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