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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 16:46 GMT
Farah feels Radcliffe effect
By Sarah Holt

Mo Farah
Full name: Mohamed Farah
Born: 23/03/1983, Mogadishu
Event: 5,000m, indoor 3,000m
Club: Newham & Essex Beagles
Honours: European 5,000m silver
Hobbies: Living life to the max and shopping

It seems even when Paula Radcliffe is on the sidelines she is still helping Great Britain win medals.

Mo Farah has revealed a well-timed pep talk from a certain pregnant marathon runner helped spur him on to European 5,000m silver last August.

His thrilling run in Gothenburg was the best performance by a British male track athlete in 2006 and a significant breakthrough for the 23-year-old.

Farah was already in form - a month earlier he clocked 13 minutes 09.40 seconds to become Britain's second-fastest runner over 5,000m behind Dave Moorcroft.

But the Somalian-born runner believes Radcliffe had a hand in his fate.

"I saw Paula an hour before my race at the Europeans when I was warming up," Farah told BBC Sport.

"She said to me, 'Go out and be brave. Just believe in yourself.'"

It was not the first time Radcliffe has had an influence on Farah's career.

"She has helped me out in my life," said Farah. "When I was a junior she gave me some money towards my training and that has helped my career.

"The nicest thing an athlete can do is to spot a youngster and help them to progress - it was a big deal and that is what she did."

Even after completing a gruelling training session in the autumn gloom of west London, the mild-mannered Farah is remarkably cheerful, but it is his modesty that impresses most.

People say Britain hasn't had a good distance runner since Brendan Foster or Dave Moorcroft but there are a good group of youngsters coming through

Mo Farah
Since leaving his native Somalia as a refugee in 1993 to come to Britain, Farah says his athletic ambitions have hinged on the help of others.

When he arrived in England he could not speak English and his sporting prowess went as far as "putting one foot in front of the other and dreaming of being a footballer," until he was spotted by his PE teacher, Alan Watkinson.

"Alan has always been behind me," said Farah. "He was the one who spotted me running, brought me onto the running team and found me a club.

"He made me believe in what I can do."

Farah quickly amassed five English Schools titles, won his first major 5,000m title at the European Junior Championships in 2001 and was offered a kit deal with Nike.

Under the guidance of coaches Alan Storey and Mark Rowland, Farah remained consistent indoors, over cross country and on the track.

But it was not until 2005 that he found his next impetus and from the unlikeliest of combinations - Australian Craig Mottram and a bunch of Kenyan flat-mates.

Jesus Espana of Spain denies Farah gold in Gothenburg
I had my head down over the last 10m but I had a feeling Espana was on my shoulder and he came past me
Mo Farah on his European silver medal
"Living in the same house as (Kenya's world number one-ranked 10,000m runner) Micah Kogo and the other Kenyan athletes last year and seeing what they do really did it for me," said Farah.

"They sleep, eat, train and rest - and that's all they do, but as an athlete you have to do all those things.

"Before the Commonwealth Games this year I went to train with Craig Mottram (world bronze 5,000m medallist) in Australia and just seeing how hard he trains helped.

"Craig proves we can contend with the African runners, he works hard and is strong but he makes me feel more positive.

"He and the Kenyans made me believe in myself and made me think if I ever want to be as good as these athletes I've got to work harder.

"I can definitely catch the Africans up. I don't just want to be British number one, I want to be up there with the best. It won't happen overnight but I believe it can."

It's a good feeling to be Britain's main hope

Mo Farah
Farah's breakthrough in 2006 earned him promotion to the top tier of UK Athletics funded athletes - and with it extra expectation to deliver.

Britain have not won an Olympic 5,000m medal since Ian Stewart's bronze in 1972 and Jack Buckner was the last man to claim a world medal over the distance in 1987.

But for Farah, finally coming good on his potential is something to be savoured not feared.

"I don't feel under any pressure," said Farah. "It's a good feeling to be Britain's main hope.

"My plan is to go to the 2007 World Championships and make the final. I've never been to the Olympics and I would like to go to Beijing.

"But to reach that point I have to do every little thing right, from ice baths to massages.

"People say we haven't had a good distance runner since Brendan Foster or Dave Moorcroft but there are a good group of youngsters coming through now.

"Nick McCormick, Chris Thompson and myself are all the same age and we need to work together and help each other.

"When I pull on the British vest I feel as proud as anything and I believe things will get better and better."

Farah & Lyne given funding boost
25 Oct 06 |  Athletics
Pregnant Radcliffe still training
09 Oct 06 |  Athletics
Farah and Pavey head Euros teams
27 Nov 06 |  Athletics
Relay men lead British medal rush
14 Aug 06 |  Athletics
Farah plays down Gothenburg hopes
23 Jul 06 |  Athletics


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