“Life goes on,” quoted Mohamed Farah after he finished eighth place in the London Marathon, which suddenly changed the focus of attention and publicity from him to Wilson Kipsang who won the 26 mile long race with a record setting time of 2:04:29. Farah shared his disappointment and admitted that the race was very tough and sometimes things just do not work out as planned.
But there is another eight that was less disappointing for the Somali born British bannered athlete. The current 10,000 meters world and 5,000 meters Olympic champ was only eight years old when he came to the United Kingdom to live with his father, London born Mukhtar Farah. Mohamed had a preference for football (soccer), but the Arsenal fan went towards another sporting profession; athletics.
After winning junior titles at an early age, Farah competed in the European Athletic Junior Championship in 2001, where he won the 5000 meters. The win was a life changing experience for Mohamed Farah, once the eight year old who arrived in Britain knowing just a few words of English, yet would later be awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 2013. It’s a title that is ceremoniously bestowed upon outstanding citizens of the Crown and Commonwealth.
Known for his Mobat, hand to head pose, Mohamed’s successful career would make him one of the most loved and decorated athletes in Britain. Amidst being the greatest distance runner in UK history, the double world and double Olympic medalist has over 20 gold, silver and bronze medals from both indoor and outdoor championships across the world. His success has helped him to sign lucrative advertising and endorsement deals with brands such as Nike, virgin Media and Quorn.
Mohamed Farah might be a British citizen, but his heart is still in Somaliland. Farah intends to help build a much needed children’s home in his own country and is constantly initializing fund raising events for his Mo Farah Foundation. The foundation was set up my Mohamed, and his wife Tania, in order to assist those living in areas severely affected by drought throughout the Horn of Africa region.
Mohamed Farah, like numerous immigrants that contribute vastly to the economic and social fabric of Britain, has helped to take the country into the international spotlight. Just last year, he emphasized his patriotism in response to comments made by footballer Jack Wilshire, who stated that only English born footballers should play for England. Farah responded by saying, “making your country proud is what matters.” Farah strongly affirms that England is where he grew up and knows, and when he runs for England it makes him proud.
Certainly, there are huge aspects of affection for Mo Farah from the British public. They urge him on during his championship races and he is fueled by their support. However, Mohamed is Muslim in a world that has become more and more skeptical about anything attached in any way to the Islamic faith. The Commander of the Order of the British Empire was, allegedly stopped by American officials for suspicion of being a terrorist, due to his first name and a computer glitch.
Being falsely accused by a computer or finishing eighth in the London Marathon will not take away from the athlete’s long standing successes, which is documented in his autobiography depicting the many changes in his life and career. The book is called Twin Ambitions.
Commentary by Humphrey Bennett