BIRMINGHAM – In his final indoor race of his career, the British Muslim Sir Mo Farah has set a European record in the 5000-meter race at the Birmingham Grand Prix.
“I had amazing support from the crowd today and I can’t quite believe it’s my last indoor race,” said Farah after winning the race, BBC reported on Saturday, February 18.
“I’ve had a great career indoors and particularly on this track.”
The 33-year-old, who will retire from the track this year, set a record of 13 minutes 9.16 seconds, two seconds faster than Frenchman Tahri Bouabdeilah’s European record.
Getting a disappointing seventh-place at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country, Farah said he plans to focus on road racing after the World Championships in London in August.
“I’m happy. It’s a lot better than it was in Edinburgh,” said Farah, The Telegraph reported.
“I needed to get out in the mountains, put in the miles and train harder, which is what I did over the last four weeks.
“I tried my best in Edinburgh, but it wasn’t good enough. I went back home after Rio to spend time with the family, but sometimes you can’t do that if you want to perform at your best. I needed to go away, leave my family behind and get back to real training. I did that for the last four weeks and it is paying off. Hard work pays off.”
At the start of his farewell track season, Farah launched his running spikes into the crowd during his lap of honor before admitting to feeling the emotion of the occasion.
“I can’t quite believe it is my last race, but I have had a great indoor career,” he said.
“It’s something that must come to an end. It’s weird thinking about it and saying goodbye because I have had great support from everyone and in particular this [Birmingham] track where I have broken so many records. It has been amazing over the years. I got emotional at the end saying goodbye.”
Farah, who was knighted in New Year honors, became Britain’s most successful track and field athlete when he won his third and fourth gold medals in Rio for the 5,000m and 10,000m.
Winning gold in 10,000m and 5000m races, Farah cemented his place as one of Britain’s greatest athletes with his double success four years ago.
Repeating the feat in 2012 and 2016, he became one of the world’s most successful distance runner in terms of major medals.
He was also awarded a CBE after winning two gold medals at the 2012 London games.
Farah had already achieved the World Championships ‘double double’, successfully defending his 10,000m and 5,000m titles in Beijing last year.
For many, Farah’s prayer can help counter the damaging stereotypes of Muslims held by many around the world, with his Muslim faith being central to his excellence in sport.