Another year to remember for Mo Farah

Another year to remember for Mo Farah
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Mo Farah, who celebrated a wonderful 5000m/10,000m double at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in 2015, competes at the IAAF Half-Marathon Championships in Cardiff, Wales.

It is one of the biggest weeks of the year for European Athletics with our Golden Tracks awards night in Lausanne on Saturday when we honour the European male and female Athletes of the Year and Rising Stars.

The shortlists for each category is down to three and the men’s trophy will be between Russia’s 110m hurdler Sergey Shubenkov and the Great Britain pair of long jumper Greg Rutherford and distance runner Mo Farah.

All week we will be looking at the contenders for Athlete of the Year, assessing not only their success in 2015 but also just how their journey brought them to the glory they achieved this year.

The Golden Tracks awards will be presented at a televised gala evening and will be streamed live at www.european-athletics.org starting at 20:30 local time.

Today, we begin with Farah…

It is amazing how the athletics wheel of fortune turns.

On 20 August 2008, Mo Farah finished sixth in his heat of the 5000m at the Olympic Games in Beijing, a position which was not good enough to reach the final.

Seven years and nine days later, the story took us to this summer, back in the same Bird’s Nest Stadium in the Chinese capital and the final of the distance where he once was an onlooker.

Only this time Farah was being hailed as the greatest distance runner of this, or perhaps any, generation after winning his seventh successive global gold medal.

Victory in the 5000m for Great Britain’s Farah saw him not only make it a hat-trick at the distance at the IAAF World Championships but ensure he became the first athlete to achieve the double-double at the event after his glory at the start of the week in the 10,000m.

Pause for a second to take in his achievements since he won the 5000m and 10,000m at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona 2010.

Since, Farah has won Olympic gold at both distances, those three 5000m world titles, the 10,000m on successive occasions, the 5000m at the European Athletics Championships in 2012 before the double at the championships in Zurich last summer.

Breathe out. It was a long list, a remarkable stretch of success which makes him such a worthy candidate to have made the shortlist for the Golden Tracks Trophy for the male Athlete of the Year.

Boiled down, this summer brought him his fourth successive double-double, let alone being the world’s fastest man in 2015 at 3000m (7:34.66) and Europe’s quickest at 1500m (3:28.93).

One aspect throughout all the years of triumph has been his desire for the sport. It has never changed.

Farah, 32, said: "I genuinely enjoy running and I love what I do. For me it’s great to win here (in Beijing) and back it up year after year."

The signs of this success were there when he was a teenager because at 16 he helped Britain win junior team gold at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Velenje.

Two years later, he was the European Junior 5000m champion in Grosseto and then in San Giorgio su Legnano in 2006 he won the senior title at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

But it is the gap bridged between Beijing in 2008 and Beijing 2015 that shows just how far he has come through such hours of hard work, and miles pounded out in training.

Farah said: "If you’d have said to me seven years ago that you would have one medal I would have said ok but to win as many medals as I have is just incredible."

As BBC commentator and former 3000m world record-holder Brendan Foster said as he watched Farah triumph in Beijing: "He might end up being regarded as the greatest distance runner there's ever been."