EXCLUSIVE: Sir Mo Farah, by those who know him best - Steve Cram
In an exclusive mini-series, Sports Gazette speaks to friends, former training partners and coaches of Sir Mo Farah about his career highlights and ambitions!
Steve Cram has seen it all when it comes to athletics, having won a 1500 metre silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and a World Championship gold in 1983.
Now the main athletics commentator for the BBC, Cram has used his expert insight to guide us through Farah's career from the terraces.
Many people will remember Cram’s ecstatic commentary when Farah won the 5,000 metre Olympic gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
Cram still holds this moment as a personal highlight in his commentating career.
Speaking to Sports Gazette at Farah's track naming event at St. Mary's University, Twickenham, Cram said: “He’d obviously done well at the Worlds the year before but the Olympics was the next big step.
“That was still a special, special time and to be able to commentate on that was, for me, a privilege.
“To be at the stadium both nights, but perhaps more the first night for the 10,000 metres, was phenomenal. I haven’t experienced too many times like that in an athletics stadium.
“Everything else Mo has done has been brilliant but that stands out.”
Farah has achieved so much on the track but Cram believes he will still be looking to improve.
“I think there’s still something in him that will say he would like to run a little bit faster but he’s now embarking on one or two new challenges," said Cram.
“He’s in a very enviable position now of being able to pick and choose what he does. He doesn’t need to do anything else on the track - he’s proved himself.
“Were the World Championships not in London this summer, we might have seen the last of him on the track - that’s why he’s still competing.
“I was joking with him in the winter. I said it’s not like there’s anyone coming along at the minute to beat him. If you can stay at the top while there’s no-one to beat you then why not keep doing it?”Were the World Championships not in London this summer, we might have seen the last of him on the track- that’s why he’s still competing.”
Farah has had a huge influence on British athletics and Cram believes the impact he has made will be maintained by the next generation.
Cram said: “At the minute we’ve got some great things going on in British endurance with Laura Muir on the women’s side, Callum Hawkins and Andy Butchart on the men’s. They’ve spent time around Mo in camps and watched him.
“Apart from the racing, what they’ve seen is how hard he works and how dedicated he is in what is a particularly unforgiving environment day on day, week after week. He’s passed a lot of that work ethic onto our younger guys coming through.
“That’s been hugely important but what’s also happened is that they’ve gone into the last two or three years without any fear of the Ethiopians or Kenyans.
“I think he’s having a massive influence in that respect, giving them that confidence, and hopefully that will continue.”
There have been issues within athletics recently as Seb Coe faced questions over his awareness of Russian doping last month but Cram says the sport has a good profile and needs stars.
“It’s a difficult one because you think if we haven’t been able to raise it while he’s been around, how are we going to raise it when he’s not around?!
“But it’s people like Mo getting youngsters to really want to have a go at track and field where we struggle to get them to stay and take part.”
For the rest of the mini-series, follow the links below:
St. Mary's Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC) training partner Tom Bedford
St. Mary's Head of 2012 Preparations and Sport Strategy Dick Fisher
EPACC Technical Director of Endurance Zara Hyde Peters
EPACC coach Craig Winrow