‘This is it. My last marathon’: Farah asks activists not to disrupt London farewell

  • Farah makes plea as security ramped up for Sunday’s race
  • ‘Maybe there will be tears. I’m coming to the end of my career’

Mo Farah has issued a personal plea to activists not to disrupt his last major race after confirming he will wind his career down after Sunday’s London Marathon.

Security has been ramped up along the 26.2-mile course after protests at the Grand National and World Snooker Championship, but the 40-year-old wants environmental groups such as Just Stop Oil to remember the money the event generates for good causes before deciding on yet more direct action.

“There are so many people taking part and running for loved ones, raising money for charities, and making a difference to others,” he said when asked whether he had a direct message to potential protesters.

“That’s what we have to remember. That’s what the London Marathon is about.”

Farah’s comments came as the World Snooker Tour president, Barry Hearn, announced plans to sue the Just Stop Oil protester Eddie Whittingham for disrupting play at the Crucible on Monday by throwing orange powder across the table.

Both Whittingham and Margaret Reid, 52, who was stopped from allegedly trying to take similar action on the adjacent table, have been bailed until June on suspicion of criminal damage.

Hearn is also ready to support fans getting involved in civil claims on a no-win, no-fee basis. “Whether he is on a good cause or bad cause has nothing to do with it,” Hearn said. “I am going at him for what he did live on TV.

“I sell a million tickets a year across all my sporting events, I cannot stop what this world is turning into, but all I can say is: ‘If you mess around with my events, this is what you can expect.’ I am not rolling over.”

Meanwhile Farah is hopeful that Sunday’s race will pass without incident but acknowledged it would be his last marathon because his body can no longer handle training week in, week out without breaking down.

“For the last two years my body hasn’t allowed me to do the training and that’s the hardest thing,” said Farah, who has won four Olympic gold medals and six world championships during his career.

“For 10 years I tended to take it for granted. But as you get older that totally changes. Because you can’t do what you did, or you get injured. For me that is the most frustrating thing. Just out of nothing it changed.”

Farah said he did not intend to retire immediately after Sunday’s race – and he hopes to run in a couple more events this year, which could take in a celebratory farewell at the Big Half or the Great North Run in September – but confirmed he had no intention of running in this summer’s World Athletics Championships or taking on the sport’s best in future.

Mo Farah poses outside Buckingham Palace before the final marathon of his career on Sunday.
Mo Farah, who will race in his final marathon this weekend, poses outside Buckingham Palace on Thursday. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters

“This is it,” he said. “I don’t know if my body can do it, week in, week out. As long as I stayed injury free and could do the work I’d continue but my body is not allowing me to do that,” he said. “Sunday will be my last marathon.

“It will be quite emotional as I started here in London when I was 14 years old, watching great athletes go off and taking part in the mini‑marathon. So I think it will get to me. Maybe after the race there will be tears and emotion. I’m coming to the end of my career.”

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Farah also denied that the seven-year period he spent with Alberto Salazar, the famed US endurance coach who was banned from athletics for four years in 2019 for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct”, had tarnished his legacy.

“No, not at all,” said Farah, who has never been charged with any offences and denies any wrongdoing. “As an athlete you go out there and deliver and win races. That’s what I’ve done. In 2010 European champs onwards. As an athlete you go out there and do the best you can. That’s what I’ve done.”

When pressed on the issue, Farah drew on his experiences of being trafficked as a child from Somalia to the UK. “You can only control things that you can control,” he added. “One thing that has always kept me in the sport, kept me focused, is that I knew life wasn’t going to get any harder than what I went through as a child.”

Farah was also questioned about Salazar’s ban for life by US Safe Sport in 2020 – after an arbiter found it was “more likely than not” Salazar had sexually assaulted an athlete on two different occasions.

Asked about his former training partner Kara Goucher’s recent claims that she was the alleged victim, Farah replied: “I have not seen any of it since I’ve been in the training camp. Since 2017 I have moved on and continued to be based here and keep doing what I love to do.”

Salazar has vehemently denied sexually assaulting Goucher.


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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