Kate and I were privileged to watch Mo Farah at the Olympic Stadium last month, and though it was only the qualifying round for the 5000m, there was still a sense of being in the presence of greatness. But it was in the last 200m of the final that Mo taught us two essential lessons about what it means to be human. Around the 1.00 minute mark in the clip below the two Ethiopians (Edris and Kejelcha) kick for home and Mo is unable to match their burst. Maybe age, maybe his exertions in the 10,000m, maybe something else – meant that he couldn’t perform the way he has done in the past, and he shows us here that humans, all humans, will one day come to the point where their bodies will be unable to respond like they did in the old days and acceptance of this fact is the source of wisdom and peace of mind.
Mo seems to have acknowledged that he is unlikely to get gold and will have to settle for another medal – until Chelima passes him and raises the real possibility of Mo Farah being out of the medals altogether. It is here that he teaches us the second lesson about what it means to be human: the mind correctly applied, can carry us far beyond what might seem realistically possible and by sheer belief and force of will Mo drags himself into what I believe to be a remarkable second place.
So remember that even though you can’t run like a teenager anymore, you can still be the best you can be at any age – which is more than enough – right?