Vernon apologises for Farah comment

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Mo Farah has claimed his Great Britain team-mate Andy Vernon questioned his nationality after the double Olympic champion won European 10,000 metres gold last summer.

Farah, who beat Vernon to victory at the European Championships in Zurich, has alleged his team-mate suggested he did not deserve the title as he was not European.

Farah made the claims when he was questioned on Friday about a Twitter spat the pair had earlier in the week.

The 31-year-old, who was born in Mogadishu in Somalia before moving to Britain as a child, has apologised for the social media row, but admitted their past contributed to his frustrations boiling over.

Vernon has admitted making the comments in Zurich, but insisted they were intended as “a joke” among a group of people “having a laugh” and apologised if they were taken out of context.

Farah is in Birmingham ahead of a tilt at an indoor world best time over two miles at Saturday’s Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, but the build-up to the meeting has been overshadowed by this escalating row.

Asked about the pair’s history, Farah said: “It happened in the European Championships in Zurich where he came second in the race I won.

“We were sitting down together and there were a number of staff and athletes there too. One comment he made, which I didn’t really like, was to say that he should have won the gold.

“I was like, ‘What, the gold should have been given to you?’ And I was like, because he was the only European guy? You can’t say something like that. I was kind of biting my tongue at the time.

“I don’t know what he meant, but at that point it hurt me. But I moved on. That was private.”

Vernon has apologised if the remarks were taken the wrong way, saying : “I said it on a table full of people and we were all having a joke at the time. We had just raced and the team was all in high spirits. The whole table was having a joke and a laugh and it was just a comment to carry on the jokes. He laughed at the time. If he did take it out of context it wasn’t meant that way and I apologise.”

The pair’s feud became public on Tuesday when they were involved in a war of words on social media, Farah labelling his team-mate “an embarrassment” after Vernon criticised the lack of high-level competition to face Farah in Birmingham.

Farah added on Friday: “I do apologise. I should never come out publicly and say some things. But we have to move on.

“You know, me and Andy. We’re not best friends, we’ll never be best friends. That’s just how it is.”

Farah, who with three world crowns to go with his double Olympic success is arguably Britain’s greatest ever athlete, added: “With an athlete like him, one I’ve been on the podium with, it was difficult to bite my tongue. Probably the best thing to do at the time was to bite my tongue, but I couldn’t do it.”

Farah will aim to let his legs do the talking at the Barclaycard Arena on Saturday as he runs his first race of the year.

The Londoner, who only returned from altitude training in Ethiopia on Thursday, could go after Kenenisa Bekele’s world best time of eight minutes 4.35 seconds, which he set at the same meeting seven years ago.

Farah, who holds the European best of 8mins 08.07secs and will be up against the likes of 40-year-old Bernard Lagat in Birmingham, said this week’s row had given him extra motivation.

“It definitely has fired me up,” he said. “What I do best is go out there and run and represent my country and to continue to win medals. 2015 is about making that bright start, then continuing through the summer.”

:: The Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix will be shown live on BBC One from 13.00-16.30 on Saturday 21 February.

A British Athletics spokesperson said it “would be talking to Andy about the comment he made and reminding him of his responsibilities as a British team member”.

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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