EXCLUSIVE: Sir Mo Farah, by those who know him best- Zara Hyde Peters
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!
Zara Hyde Peters was part of the Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC) at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, when they first opened with UK athletics.
She said: “At that point we didn’t have the track, we had the old 'Upside Down' track and Dick Fisher was just on a mission to get the new track laid.
When we started thinking about who we were going to attract here as our first students, Mo was obviously top of the list.”
At that time, Farah was a 16-year-old who had already performed well at world cross-country level.
Peters went on to say: “I just remember this really quite shy young man. When he first came here he kept his head down and trained very hard.
“I used to drive him to English college for his lessons over in Twickenham.”
At Farah’s track naming event at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, he said it hasn’t always been smooth.
He added: “At the age of 17 or 18 you get up to all kinds of stuff but thanks to the creator, I got on the right path.”
Farah was grateful to the staff during his time studying, saying: “I just wanted to say thank you to every one who supported me, thank you to all the staff- sorry if I caused any trouble!”I just remember this really quite shy young man who kept his head down and trained very hard.”
Peters agreed that he had a little bit of a free spirit whilst studying but he was always an inspiration to others.
She said: “The other athletes looked up to him right from the start because you could just tell he was something special.
“Mo is very grounded when he says you have got to believe in yourself because what he didn’t talk about there was some of the injuries he had when he was based here at St Mary’s.
“Over the years he did have a few fairly serious injuries and that is hard for any athlete and yet he had the belief to get himself through that, do the cross training and stick with his ambition.
“So I think when he sets himself a goal he tends to achieve it.”
She believes he will be successful again this summer at the World Championships and in the future.
Peters added: “So long as God is willing and nothing goes horribly wrong.
“He still has a lot to achieve outside of the track in terms of longer distances because he has such a huge range of talent.”
Farah’s heart is in the sport and Peters believes he will become a role model and ambassador for young people in sport.
She said: “With a culture that’s dominated by football it is really good to have somebody in a sport that is as inclusive and diverse as athletics, actually up there and attracting the kind of media attention he does.
“His future is much about being a beacon for what you can achieve through sport.”
For the rest of the mini-series, follow the links below:
Track legend and BBC athletics commentator Steve Cram
St. Mary's Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC) training partner Tom Bedford
St. Mary's Head of 2012 Preparations and Sports Strategy Dick Fisher
EPACC coach Craig Winrow