One of the most enduring images of the 2012 Olympics has to be that of the ecstatic face of Mo Farah as he crossed the finish line to win his second gold medal of the competition and so secure the 5000m and 10,000m double. A feat only achieved by 5 people in the history of the Olympic Games.
His subsequent two hands to the top of his head ‘M’ triumphal gesture gained worldwide recognition as an indicator of winning and the exhilaration of success. The gesture became a frequently imitated fun metaphor of the Games.
When it was announced with much fanfare that Mo was to take on marathon running and was set to compete in the London Marathon of 2014 there was much excitement and anticipation of possible success. Could Mo pull it off?
Gruelling training regime
Mo fans all hoped that their hero could achieve the impossible and followed with interest his gruelling training regime which involved 3 months spent on the red clay roads of Kenya at 8,000 feet above sea level, racking up an average of 130 miles each week.
This committed attitude to training is echoed in the strap line on the official Mo Farah website, “Go Hard or Go Home”. Then came the disappointing 2nd place in the New York half marathon a month ago with images of Mo collapsed at the finish line. Not an auspicious run up to the main event. As ever though Mo remained upbeat, saying, “I tried my hardest and gave 110%. That’s all you can do.”
Sunday 13 April 2014 Marathon day
So, then came the big day in sunny London with Mo fans in Mo masks Mo –‘botting’ and cheering on their hero. But it was not to be. As we know, Mo finished in 8th position with a time of 2 hours 8 minutes 21 seconds, 4 minutes behind Kipsang the winner and 1 minute off the British record. Commentators were already predicting that Mo should revert back to the track where he has reigned supreme. After all, he was already a champion so why take on the extra challenge of marathon running.
But no! In typical Mo Farah fashion he refuses to use any of the possible injury or pace maker conspiracy issues as excuses for his performance, instead his response is, “Champions get on with it and leave it behind. I’ve learned from the Kenyans; they have one bad race and forget about it”.
What a brilliant philosophy
We could all benefit from his approach. How often do we allow one bad sales presentation, one poor team meeting, one leadership challenge, to affect our confidence and subsequent performance. What an important learning point it is to be able to put defeat behind us and move on in a positive way towards the next opportunity without any negative overhang from what has gone before.
Mo is a terrific athlete and competitor. His attitude is always so positive and his smile infectious.
This is what he had to say after the race on Sunday, “When I am running, even when I am in pain, I try to show the physical appearance of happiness,” he said smiling. “You get this energy, it helps so much”. What an inspiration this incredible man is and how much we can all learn from his approach to success and his attitude when things don’t go according to plan.
“I had a bad day at the office”, was Mo’s reaction. Tomorrow is always another day.
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