World record-holder’s praise for Mo Farah’s Chicago Marathon ‘perfection’, her pride at the work being done by husband Gary Lough and why she feels the multi gold medallist can still go faster on the track

Paula Radcliffe says Mo Farah’s winning run at the Chicago Marathon was judged “to perfection” and that she is proud of her husband and coach Gary Lough for the way he is working with the four-time Olympic champion.

Lough helped coach his wife to many successes, including her marathon world record of 2:15:25 set in London in 2003, and began guiding Farah last year.

Farah proved that the work they have been putting in is paying off as he smashed the European record with 2:05:11 to claim his maiden marathon win earlier this month.

“How Mo handled that was really impressive because, to be honest, he wasn’t probably the favourite going into it and the guy just doesn’t know how to lose! He just finds that little bit more,” says Radcliffe, who was in Chicago to witness Farah’s feat.

“There were times when he was dropping off the pack and I was thinking ‘oh god’ but then he would get himself back on to that. Once he went to the front and really started turning the screw, I think that’s what was impressive because that’s what he has not really done before.

“He would probably honestly say the marathon is the event where he is the least confident, the least comfortable, and feels that he’s got to play it a little bit differently. So he wasn’t afraid to go and wind it up.

“I think the way he ran it, he judged it to perfection. He was very tired afterwards but then he should be and he deserves that time because it was a good, strong run.”

The 44-year-old, who won the London Marathon three times and the Chicago Marathon once, believes that the confidence gained from a major marathon win cannot be overstated.

Paula Radcliffe after racing her final marathon in London in 2015. Photo by Mark Shearman

“Winning a marathon major is important at any time, but when it’s only your third marathon then it’s something really important,” she says. “I think it can boost his confidence. I think already the third place in London (in April) boosted his confidence and he learned a lot about himself there. But to come and to judge the race and win the race, it’s different to hanging on for third.

“Nobody is expecting him to go out in the next race and beat Eliud Kipchoge – even he will say that’s probably not going to happen! But to win in Chicago, I think the confidence of that will really stand him in good stead in the next batch of training, because that’s what it’s about really. You kind of draw all of the confidence from that previous race to take into the hard bit of training for the next marathon.”

It has been almost a year since Farah announced that he would be switching from his coaching set-up with Alberto Salazar in America to be guided by Lough in the UK.

On the new partnership, Radcliffe adds: “I’m really proud of Gary and happy with the way that he’s made that work because Mo is a completely different person to me and he’s a completely different athlete.

“Our strengths and weaknesses – you probably couldn’t find two more different people but yet he has been able to adapt to those differences in personality and those physical differences, psychological differences, to make them work. That’s what I think has made that difference – it’s the fact that he understands the person and understands what changes need to be made.”

After Farah’s win in Chicago, Lough told the press that the event Farah targets at next year’s world championships in Doha is yet to be decided – leaving open the possibility that the 10-time global gold medallist may consider a track return.

“Whether there’s a chance, I think that’s absolutely for them to decide,” Radcliffe says on the topic of Farah heading back to the track.

“We thought when I moved to the marathon that was going to be the end of the track, and it turned out that I ran faster on the track afterwards. I’m not sure if Mo can manage that because he pretty much did it all on the track already, but maybe he does still want to go back and run quicker.

“I absolutely think he still could go quicker on the track.”

» Paula Radcliffe was speaking with AW at the Virgin Money London Marathon ‘Spirit of London’ awards where she was among the 25 champions, runners, volunteers and supporters to receive recognition. Read more here