EXCLUSIVE: Sir Mo Farah, by those who know him best- Craig Winrow
In an exclusive mini-series, Sports Gazette speaks to friends, former training partners and coachs of Sir Mo Farah about his career highlights and ambitions!
Craig Winrow has experienced an athlete’s career, jumping onto the British scene with an 800 metre gold medal at the European Junior Championships.
He even represented Great Britain at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games in a very successful career on the track.
Winrow was a coach on the Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC) at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, when Farah joined the programme.
Now he coaches the up and coming athletes at St. Mary’s who have been inspired by Farah and his achievements.
Winrow has seen Farah from the beginning and said his highlight from the double-double Olympic champion’s career was seeing that development.
Speaking at the St. Mary’s track naming event in Farah’s honour, Winrow said: “He came here as a young developing athlete, became a world-class athlete, moved to America and then became a double-double Olympic champion.
“I guess we couldn’t have written that all those years ago! The idea was creating someone like that and that centre at St. Mary’s has helped do that.
“For me, being an ex-athlete, it doesn’t just happen. You don’t just wake up one morning and you’re an Olympic champion. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it and the fact I’m around him to see him do what he wanted to do is great.”Whilst there is talk of retirement, he will be looking for the next challenge and that challenge is the marathon.”
Whilst it is clear to see what Farah must do physically to achieve what he has in athletics, Winrow said it is the concept of ‘giving up something’ that is most challenging.
He said: “He’s got to be away on these camps all the time, away from his family, and that’s a big commitment. He’s spending months and months away in Africa in some of these obscure places.
“It’s not the life that people might think. It’s very, very basic and a lot of hard work, doing 120 miles a week. You can’t do a lot more to be honest!”
Winrow is one of many who believes Farah will move from the track to the road to take on the marathon-running challenge.
“Obviously he’s already dabbled in it once, so I guess the decision is whether it’s a big enough challenge for him to carry on,” Winrow said.
“Whilst there is talk of retirement, he will be looking for the next challenge and that challenge is the marathon.”
Winrow showed great pride in being part of the programme which helped Farah but said he let the athletes deal with the social side of things.
He said: “In his early years, when he got up to a bit of normal student living, I’m sure he would have got up to some funny stories.
“If it was anything like our current students and what they get up to, then I’d imagine it’s fairly similar!”
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 Sport Strategy Dick Fisher
EPACC Technical Director of Endurance Zara Hyde Peters