Take a long look at Mo Farah as he skips around the muddy trails within Holyrood Park in today’s Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh International XC and maybe take a souvenir snap or two.
Because the four-time Olympic gold medallist has confirmed that he has chosen the Capital for his last-ever cross-country outing at the beginning of a year that will bring down the curtain on his career on the track. He has won here before, of course; he came second 12 months ago, and he has sprinkled a huge bucket of stardust on an event that will be broadcast all around the world.
He has achieved such a status that he was handed a race bib yesterday with ‘Sir Mo’ printed especially for one of the UK’s two new sporting knights.
But, even as the rags to riches tales of a former refugee from Somalia who became one of the UK’s finest Olympians enters a new chapter, he insisted: “I’m still simply Mo. I just get the same questions – what do we call you? But nothing has changed. To be given the title is something I never dreamed of as a kid.
“Coming to GB and not speaking a world of English ... so now to have achieved what I have achieved and to be recognised for running for my country, which I love running for – to be given that title, there is no word to describe it. It’s just an honour. It’s hard talking about it.”
He’ll have a date soon with the official resident of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. An official seal of approval from the Palace but still not from the British public who voted in their droves last month to make the soon-to-be Sir Andy Murray the BBC Sports Personality of the Year rather than the athlete who has landed an astonishing 17 major titles. Farah acknowledged it was a bit strange. Triathlete Alistair Brownlee, who came second, jumped on the snub by claiming the king of the track should have won. “Alistair is an amazing athlete – and I have a lot of respect for him to come out and say what he needed to say,” he said. “No one needed to say, it is just what happened it is something out of my control. I think he is a great athlete and I have a lot of time for him. For me, if I had a vote I would have voted for him, for sure, because that memory of him picking up his brother really touched me. But it’s not something I think about. What really I think about is what I do for my country and having the support.”
He’ll still get plenty of backing in Edinburgh where the target will be to win the 8km men’s race and help Great Britain and Northern Ireland to fend off Europe and the United States to take the overall points title. And while defending champion Garrett Heath of the USA is gunning for a fourth title here, Scots prospect Callum Hawkins is aiming to show he is in line to take over Farah’s crown as the number one distance runner.
And Farah said: “Callum is going well. He is great athlete. He did well in the Rio marathon and was up there until the last lap last year. I have to be aware of who is who and try my best and win the race.
“But it’s not going to be easy. Garrett isn’t going to make it easy. The USA guys aren’t going to make it easy. Callum’s not going to make it easy. So it makes it exciting.”