LONG-distance great Haile Gebrselassie believes Mo Farah’s recent achievements have been nothing short of “amazing”.
The Somalia-born, British-raised runner was one of the stars of London 2012, taking gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres in his hometown.
As if that was not enough, Farah followed that up by taking both titles at the World Championships in Moscow last month to become just the second athlete to secure the double-double.
It was success the 30-year-old revealed was driven by a snub from boyhood hero Gebrselassie, who three years ago said there were too many top-class east African runners for him to succeed.
The Ethiopian great accepts he was wrong and has been left in awe of Farah’s achievements.
“Mo is amazing,” said Gebrselassie. I remember three years ago I didn’t expect him to become like this, so strong. He has done a really amazing performance.
“I remember I said a few years ago in an interview with someone about Mo that I didn’t see him in a shape to beat the Ethiopians and the Kenyans, but then you start to see his training.
“He has achieved everything - Olympics, World Championships - it is amazing. Now, he has switched to the road.
“Even what he has done in a half marathon, he did very good. This is what sport is about.”
Farah is planning to run his first full marathon in London next year, but has already proved himself to be an accomplished road runner.
After breaking the UK half marathon record in New Orleans earlier this year, he will line up for just his third race at that distance at today’s Bupa Great North Run.
It promises to be a fantastic race, with Farah taking on Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele - the only other athlete to have completed the double-double.
“It is very exciting,” Gebrselassie said. “It will be something very special this year, not only for us but those watching this event.
“Imagine bringing this three generations of athletes and to put together and don’t also forget the women’s side, the two Ethiopians.
“It is amazing, especially as this time Mo is strong, good and his performance has beaten everybody.
“Myself, Kenenisa himself and Mo, we want to win this race.
“This race is important for all of us and this race, to win it, is really something very special.”
Gebrselassie is now 40 but his experience could hurt his younger rivals, having won the event in 2010 and previously held the half-marathon world record.
“Of course, I don’t give up,” he said. “I don’t say ‘okay, he is in good shape’ I don’t say it like that. I say ‘come, try it’.
“For a race like Sunday, this gives you motivation. I don’t want to just be in a group, I want to be as far up as possible.
“Myself, I did very good training this year. It was very serious training since I was contacted by the organisers of the Bupa Great North Run.
“I just trained seriously because this is something very important.”