Dubai: Four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah has told UAE residents coping with their 30x30 Dubai Fitness Challenge to ignore doubt and take a chance, much like he will at the 2020 Olympics.
"If you are hungry for it, anything is possible. I dreamed ... went back to become a four-time Olympic champion."
— Mo Farah
The British distance runner was at a community run at the Palm Jumeirah Fitness Village on Saturday, and had some inspirational advice for those lacking motivation or fearing failure a week into the campaign, which challenges residents to do 30 minutes of exercise for 30 days from October 26 to November 24.
“Anything you do you’re always going to have people doubting you or people who don’t believe in you, but it all depends on how much you believe in yourself,” he told Gulf News.
“If you are hungry anything is possible, I dreamed of becoming Olympic champion once and went back to become four-time Olympic champion,” he said of his double 5,000-metre and 10,000-metre haul at both the 2012 and 2016 Games — famously falling in the 10,000-metre final at Rio 2016, only to get back up and go onto win.
“You either put yourself under a lot of pressure and [buckle] or tell yourself you’ve got one chance and make something of it. In 10 years, I don’t want to look back and say I should have done this or I should have done that, I don’t want to have regrets.
“I doubted myself in 2008 when I didn’t even make the final, so of course there was doubt — I do have doubts, I’m just as human same as the rest — but there’s having that other belief and telling yourself ‘no, I don’t want to be in that situation’. I will do anything in terms of taking the work and all that’s necessary in order for me to win races.”
Enormous highs were followed by lows before and after Rio, when he had to distance himself from those around him who were implicated in doping allegations, even making results from a blood test public to prove he was clean. He has since quit track and turned his attentions to the marathon, where he got his first win in Chicago last month, and now, he targets another gold medal at Tokyo 2020 — though he’s just undecided in which discipline that will be.
“I’ve been away [from track] for about a year and when I see my opponents and see people, my friends, part of them miss me, but I haven’t really decided. Obviously part of me is saying I do miss that, but do I really want it? That’s the question.
“If I do return [to the Olympics], it would be nice to do the marathon for sure, because obviously that’s what I’m training for right now. Will I go back to the track? No, I see myself on the road, but there’s part of me that still has that drive to say ‘go on’ [do track].
“I want to continue my journey on through the road, we’ve got the 2019 World Championships, then Tokyo 2020, so we’ll see.
“I’ve won a major marathon now, Chicago was a big win, if I can win another, maybe win London one day, and then continue, I think Olympic gold is possible, anything is possible, I just have to do one year at a time.”
Chicago was won in a European record time of two hours, five minutes and 11 seconds, just three minutes off the marathon world record, which Farah hinted at targeting: “What drives me is being hungry and ready to want to take yourself somewhere no other athlete has been.”
By Tokyo however, Farah would be 37, so would another gold there be the ultimate way to prove doubters wrong?
“It doesn’t prove anything, results are results, but at the same time it’s about being able to take that chance and take that moment.”
How long can he keep going? “As long as I’m enjoying it and not waking up in the morning and saying ‘ah, I’ve got to go and run’, as long as I’m not thinking that.
“When the day comes where I’ve got to go and run and tell myself I’m not motivated, then I’ll stop.”