11 Jan 2018 - 0:00
Mo Farah to ‘run his heart out’ in Doha
By Armstrong Vas / The Peninsula
DOHA: Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah said competing at the 2020 Tokyo Games is a ‘possibility’ only if he is convinced he can win a medal.
“I am really looking forward to opening my 2018 season in Doha. It is a chance to test myself on the fast and flat run along Doha, and to hopefully check out the city,” said the 34-year-old Briton, while speaking to journalists ahead of the Ooredoo Doha Marathon 2018.
“The facilities are top class and the people of Qatar are very welcoming. The organisation has been great too. I shall run my heart out for you,” he added.
“It’s my second time in Qatar. I am looking forward to the race, and it’s great to be here amongst this line up of stars and be an ambassador for the half marathon which is part of the Ooredoo Doha Marathon,” said Farah, who first came to Doha to participate in the Doha Diamond League.
Farah, who won gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m events at London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games, retired from the track as Britain’s greatest athlete after winning four Olympic and six world championship titles to concentrate on the marathon.
“Tokyo is possible. If I’m in great shape and I’m good enough to get a medal, I will be there,” Farah added.
“There’s no athlete who’s ever gone all the way up from the track straight to the marathon and been successful,” said Farah.
The Somali-born, who migrated to England as an eight-year-old boy, said he need to improve and keep pace with some of the top marathon runners while having a crack at the 26-mile event.
“We’ll see. That’s the goal, really. Can I run a decent marathon? And if I can, what time can I run in? That’s the question I am asking, and so many other people are asking,” added Farah.
“I need to improve myself. It’s going to be tough. I got to understand the marathon. A lot of guys doing crazy things doing amazing times. So, I need to train hard and do my best..keep winning medals, support my family and that what keeps me going,” said Farah, while elaborating on the targets he has set for himself.
Farah said he drew inspiration from the performances of Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie and Kenyan Paul Tergat.
“As an athlete, as a young boy I dreamt of becoming an Olympic champion once and I remember taking part in as many races I could. I think it was 2000 Sydney Olympics, I had seen Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie compete and that’s when I told myself that I want to win an Olympic gold medal, and since then I have been training hard and going on and on,” said Farah, who was adjudged as BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Farah and 17 fellow elite men and women will compete over 13.1 miles, with a record number of 2000 amateur runner lining up in mass participation Doha Marathon.
Among those joining Farah are Chris Thompson, winner of the Great Scottish Run in 2017, Germany’s marathon record holder Arne Gabius, Turkey’s two-time Olympian Bekir Karayel, Michael Shelley, the 2014 Commonwealth Games marathon champion, along with America duo Ryan Vail and Abdi Abdirahman, who finished third in the New York City Marathon in 2016.
“I’m excited to compete at the Ooderoo Doha Marathon; this is my first time visiting Qatar. The half marathon race is a great fit into my overall plans for 2018, since I’m preparing for a spring marathon. It will be great to get a break from training and test my fitness against some of the best athletes in the world,” Gabius said.
Shelley, one of the favourites for the event said he is using the event, as part of his preparation to defend his Commonwealth Games title later this year at the Gold Coast event.
“I am really looking forward to running in Doha as it will give me a great insight as to how my training is going in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games. Also, it will be a great pleasure to discover more about Doha,” he said.
In the women’s elite race, 32-year-old Gemma Steel, who most recently won team gold at the European Cross Country Championships, is joined USA’s Allison Kieffer, Sara Dossena of Italy and Turkey’s Esma Aydemir.
Kieffer finished fifth at New York City Marathon last year and is also a past winner of the Miami Marathon, while Dossena, who is the reigning Italian 10,000m champion, finished one place behind the American in New York.
The elite half marathon has $50,000 in prize money up for grabs, with equal prize funds for both the men’s and women’s events.
The invitational elite half is part of the Ooredoo Doha Marathon which includes a full marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K events for adults and youth as well as 3K and 1K events for children. Over the past five years, the Ooredoo Doha Marathon has steadily grown to become the largest mass participation event in Qatar, attracting runners from over 50 nationalities.