Marathon great Paula Radcliffe says four-time Olympic champion will have benefited from the disruption of 2020
Paula Radcliffe believes this strange year has in fact “relit the fires and reignited a passion” within Sir Mo Farah.
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics – at which Farah is due to defend his 10,000m title – means he will be 38 if and when next year’s Games finally go ahead. The 10-time global gold medallist, as with so many other athletes, has had to make do with a lot of training time but limited opportunities to compete.
In this month’s edition of AW, Farah admits his mind is starting to turn towards life after athletics – and that’s part of the reason why he will act as pacemaker for the British Olympic hopefuls during Sunday’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
However, his recent performances in breaking the one-hour record on the track in Brussels and winning the Antrim Coast half-marathon on the road have also shown that the vital spark is still there.
Radcliffe suspects that being given a glimpse of life without being able to compete at the top level this year has offered a sense of perspective which could prove hugely valuable to Farah.
“He will, as will everyone else, be another year older next year,” says the former marathon world record-holder. “For someone like Jemma Reekie that will be an advantage, whereas for him it’s another year of hanging on and kind of holding his body together.”
However, she adds: “It also has been a down year where maybe he’s even just been able to appreciate it a little bit more. For him it was championship after championship, success after success.
“He moved to the marathon for a fresh stimulus and had success there but then not so much and I think maybe he was getting a little bit tired.
“When he was able to come out and run in Brussels, he performed phenomenally off a fairly short build-up into that and showed he was able to get back into great shape.
“I think that will have relit fires for him and reignited a passion that maybe had started to wane a little bit.”
Radcliffe, who retired in 2015, added: “Yes, in retirement you can do all the things that you can’t do when you’re competing but few things ever quite replace the buzz of competition.
“It’s different when you’re a parent and you throw yourself into that, but I think a lot of people struggle to replace that passion or that buzz.”
» Read the exclusive interview with Paula Radcliffe in the new-look October edition of AW