Farah fued good for athletics

p26168Sport-10-1

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

UK Athletics president Lynn Davies believes the feud between Mo Farah and Andy Vernon is good for the sport.

Double Olympic champion Farah and Great Britain team-mate Vernon were involved in an unseemly spat ahead of the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham last weekend.

Somalia-born Farah claimed that Vernon had questioned his nationality after winning 10,000 metres gold at the European Championships in Zurich last summer but the silver medallist from Fareham described that as “complete lies”.

Farah responded to the row by roaring to the first world record of his career – setting a new world indoor best of eight minutes 03.40 seconds over two miles in Birmingham – and Davies said the bad blood reminded him of the historic track rivalry between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett and would raise the profile of athletics.

“What happened was out of character for both of them but it’s not a bad idea to have gossip and talking points in athletics,” Davies said.

“It happens all the time in football. People talk about personalities and suddenly we’ve got two top-class athletes who are having a go at each other.

“I remember the Coe-Ovett era well and you couldn’t have had two characters with more different personalities.

“They didn’t speak to each other and, of course, that creates a lot of public interest because there’s a human story.

“Mo and Andy are both great guys but sometimes in athletics you get this keen rivalry.”

Vernon said he would welcome a press conference for the two athletes to clear the air with both men expected to be representing Great Britain at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing in August.

And Davies supported that novel idea, saying; “We’re overshadowed by so many other sports now that we need to put our heads above the horizon and say ‘Athletics is alive and kicking and we’ve got personalities here.’

“You had that with Coe and Ovett and then the possibility of the two of them racing against each other.

“It adds spice and rivalry and we need personalities who are larger than life, not just great athletes but people who can project themselves and connect and engage with the public.”

Davies was speaking at the launch of the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff and Farah was the name on most people’s lips at the event.

The Championships will be held on March 26, 2016 and race organisers are hoping Farah will compete in Wales, even though it comes less than five months before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when the 31-year-old will be defending his 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres titles.

“Mo’s presence would be a massive boost and the icing on the cake because he is such a charismatic figure,” said Davies, the 1964 Olympic long jump champion.

“It’s hard to say how it fits in with his Olympic preparations but I think the half marathon might appeal to him next year rather than the full marathon which he attempted last year in London.

“It would give him enough time to recover for Rio and when I get the chance to chat to him in Beijing this summer I will ask him to come along [to Cardiff].”

Davies also believes race organisers should entice Farah to compete by offering him appearance money as well as a lucrative incentive to break the world record, which is currently held by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese in a time of 58 minutes and 23 seconds.

“Mo is such an iconic figure I would imagine there might be an attractive proposition in terms of appearance and prize money,” Davies said.

“The course is very flat and potentially world-class times can be recorded on it, which will attract the best runners in the world to claim bonus money for records.

“We have been granted a special opportunity to put Cardiff and Wales on the sporting map and for a Welshman like myself it will be a very special occasion.”

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search