Farah shows he belongs in big league

Farah shows he belongs in big league

Last month he became the first British male to complete the 5,000 and 10,000 metres double at a major championship and was instantly tagged as one of his country's medal prospects for the 2012 London Olympics.

Farah's stunning performances at the European Championships in Barcelona were no accident, however.  For the past two seasons the Somalia-born 27-year-old has put in the hard yards high in the mountains of Kenya where he has watched the best distance runners in the business.

Farah even sent his wife Tania home alone from their honeymoon in Zanzibar in April so he could put in some final graft for Barcelona in the rough and ready training camps which churn out a continuous supply of east African world beaters.

"Everything is just focused on training, nothing else," the amiable Farah told Reuters as he mingled with youngsters at a UK Athletics promotional day at the Eurostar terminal in London's King's Cross station.

"There's no distractions -- no television, no going to the cinema. I realised if I was going to achieve anything I would have to do what the Kenyans were doing. I had to eat, sleep and train like the Kenyans. It opened my eyes. I started to think if I'm racing against these guys what chance have I got?

"If they are working this hard and eating right and I'm not, what chance have I got to get near them? I realised nothing is given on a plate."  Farah has long been tipped as a medal winner and David Moorcroft, who still holds the British 5,000 record of 13:00.41, is convinced he can compete with the Africans.

"He's probably the most talented runner at 5,000 and 10,000 we've had in this country," said Moorcroft, the last non-African to set a 5,000 world record.

Farah is undecided about competing at this year's Commonwealth Games and is already thinking about the 2011 world championships, determined to make up for a disappointing seventh place in Berlin last year. "This is just the stepping stone for me," said Farah, whose first love when he arrived from gun-ravaged Somalia was football. "The Olympics is what it's all about and the worlds.

“I've proved I can mix with the best and I'm the best in Europe but the next step is going to be even harder.  "I finished just half a second away from a medal in the worlds so I'm close. Just not close enough yet." Farah exudes a new-found confidence and revels in the attention he is receiving since returning from Barcelona.

His dazzling smile and cheerful demeanour have endeared him to a new army of fans but he says there is no chance of him getting above himself.  Farah only has to look at the record books to realise where he stands in the overall scheme of things.

His personal best over 5,000 is 13:05.66 set in Gateshead this year -- a chasm away from the world record of 12:37.35 held by Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele.  "I can't see that record going any time soon," he smiles. "You have to be realistic and set realistic barriers."

So what about Moorcroft's British record which has stood for 28 years?  "When am I going to run under 13 minutes? It will come, it will come," said Farah.

"But I'm not obsessed with times. I run for medals. Times can always be broken but medals you get to keep forever."

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