Mo Farah says it was ‘weird’ not to make the podium in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards after clinching an historic Olympic ‘Double Double.’
Farah, who won gold in the 5k and 10k in Rio – emulating his achievement at London 2012 – had his status as Britain’s best track and field athlete recognised with a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours list.
But although the multiple world and Olympic champion was on the Beeb’s 16-person shortlist for SPOTY, he finished well out of the running behind a top three of Andy Murray, triathlete Alistair Brownlee and showjumper Nick Skelton.
‘It was a bit weird. I just thought I might be top three,’ said Farah, who begins his final season on the track by taking to the mud of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park for the Simply Health Great Edinburgh Cross Country. ‘I don’t know if I would have won it. But it’s not something in my control.
‘No-one can take away what I’ve achieved. My medals and everything, more than anything else, putting that GB vest on.’
Brownlee said on the night of the awards that he thought Farah’s failure to win more public votes was ‘really sad’.
‘No-one had to say anything – that’s just how it happened,’ said Farah.
‘Alastair’s an amazing athlete and I have a lot of respect for him. For me, if I had to vote for someone, I would have voted for him.’
Farah contrasted his pride in representing Team GB with the flags of convenience being flown by two of his rivals in today’s race, Kenyan-born Turkish pair Polat Kemboi Arikan and Aras Kaya, both late converts to their adopted homeland.
Farah, who famously arrived in the UK as an eight-year-old Somali unable to speak English, insisted: ‘When you represent your country, you have to be representing a country you love – a country you’ve lived in.
‘I don’t personally agree that you should compete for one country and then decide to switch in a short space of time.
‘We all love representing our country because we love the country. That is your country. It’s different if they’ve been there for seven, eight years – that’s fine. But to just switch overnight? That’s difficult. It makes athletics look boring.’
Farah trained with boyhood heroes Arsenal this week, taking part in drills with first-team players and meeting Arsene Wenger, the recipient of an honorary OBE some years ago.
‘He didn’t call me Sir, of course not!’ laughed Farah. ‘I am pretty sure he’s got a title, even though he’s French.