Copyright Elizabeth Archer 2016

My interview with Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah

December 14, 2019

 

It is a Friday morning and I am sitting in the lobby of a non-descript hotel on the outskirts of Bristol, waiting for Mo Farah.

 

If it seems like an unlikely place to find the Olympic gold medal-winning athlete, perhaps it is, but he is here as the hotel's new ambassador.

 

I am told that I can have a 20-minute interview with him as part of the hotel's opening, so my editor at the Daily Express has sent me to meet him.

 

A few days before the interview, Mo made some controversial comments at a London Marathon press conference about his row with former athlete Haile Gebreselassie, and was criticised for stealing the limelight from other runners.

 

Mo is accused of starting a fight in the gym of a training camp run by Haile, and of not paying his bill at the end. In return, Mo alleges some of his valuables were stolen while he stayed there.

 

It is just days after the controversy, which played badly in the media, and I suspect he will not be in the mood for chatting with me.

 

I arrive at the hotel a few minutes early, and am told Mo is running late as he is filming an advert for the hotel.

 

A photographer and I wait patiently in the lobby. After about half an hour and several offers of lattes, Mo finally bounces into the room, with his trademark ear-to-ear beam lighting up his face.

 

I offer him my hand to shake and he pumps it enthusiastically.

 

In person, he is smaller than I expected, and somewhat puppy-like, with slim legs making his feet seem enormous, emphasised even more by the fact that he wears a flourescent green pair of Nike trainers.

 

From his energetic greeting, it seems as though he couldn't be more thrilled to meet me, and we head upstairs to the hotel's gym for the photographer to take some photos.

 

 

 

As we walk through the gym doors, Mo is by my side. But when I turn to talk to him, I realise he's disappeared. I look around to see him weighing himself on the gym scales.

 

"This is cool, what does this do?" he grins.

 

A PR person ushers him off the scales, and we take some photos of he and I sitting on the exercise bikes. But, not content with posing for pictures, Mo tries to peddle his bike as fast as he can.

 

"You peddle too," he says.  "I want to see if I can go faster than you."

 

Eventually, the pictures are taken and we move to a matted area for more shots. But again, Mo is distracted.

 

Finding a padded shoulder weight, he lifts it above his head and chucks it gleefully on the floor.

 

"What are these for?' he asks, picking it up for another slam on the floor.

 

Someone scurries over to take it out of his hands.

 

"Let's put that back. Remember you're here for an interview," one of the hotel PRs says in hushed tones.

 

Eventually after the photos have been taken, we sit down for our interview.

 

I turn on my dictaphone, and suddenly Mo is transformed. Gone is his frenetic energy, and he listens to me attentively, giving thoughtful answers with wide eyes and a friendly smile.

 

All too quickly, the interview is over, and I am on the train back to London, typing up my notes. Then, when I arrive in London's Paddington, I head to a nearby cafe to type up the feature, which needs to be sent off by 2pm to make it into tomorrow's paper.

 

"What was he like?" my boyfriend asks when I get home.

 

"Bouncy," I say, heading to the sofa for a liedown.

 

Read my interview with Mo here.

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