In between press sessions at his first appearance in the Doha Diamond League athletics event, double-Olympic champion Mo Farah spots a football lying on the floor in the media centre. With a broad smile he dashes over and begins showing his skills.
For someone as successful in his field as the current Olympic, World and European champion has been in recent years, collecting 5000 and 10000 meter gold medals in London, Moscow and Paris, Farah, an avid supporter of English Premier League club Arsenal, is also surprisingly nimble on the ball as he launches into a keep-up series which leaves the gathered reporters murmuring in surprise.
Having already joked about the option of ‘maybe going boxing’ when he retires one day, the British protagonist of the London 2012 Olympic Games then goes on in earnest about his love for football, having closely followed the previous night’s UEFA Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Juventus.
“In football you never know what’s going to happen, I honestly thought on paper that Real Madrid would win it. Who would have thought that Tevez would be in the Champions League final, and then Morata scoring two goals against his former club, which he didn’t celebrate."
Having finished his ball-juggling demonstration, Farah continued by expressing his excitement at the first FIFA World Cup™ to be held in the Middle East.
He told www.sc.qa: “I am big fan of football, so it is very exciting. I am looking at it and picturing where the stadiums will be. I believe they can do a great job, and the setup now is amazing, so it can only improve from now.”
With Doha becoming a real sports capital across different events in recent years – Qatar will host the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships – Farah added that he could see himself coming back to look for more medals in the Qatari capital.
I am looking at it and picturing where the stadiums will be. I believe they can do a great job, and the setup now is amazing, so it can only improve from now.
He added: “It’s very exciting to be here, it is my first time in Qatar. In terms of facilities in the country, it is pretty amazing. It will be exciting to see the 2019 World Championships in athletics here.”
The five-time British Athlete of the Year also looked to competitions in the Middle East as an inspirational force for youngsters taking up the sport, saying his own experiences with the Mo Farah Foundation had shown him just how important it was to give children sporting opportunities.
“I hope young kids in this region are inspired by my presence here. I would tell them to keep working hard and I will share with them my life, and advise them to enjoy it and not to give up on their dreams. I see myself as an ambassador for this sport, trying to give back something. I have set up the Mo Farah foundation, where we offer sports access to kids who don’t have access to facilities.”
Always thinking about how to improve personally as well as attract more publicity for his sport, Farah said: “How do we make our sport exciting, get more people watching us, like in football? I don’t watch all the runs, but if you know the person running then you do tune in, so it is about building that.”
With Friday’s IAAF Diamond League Doha 2015 race just the latest milestone in an important season for Farah, there is no sign that he is ready to ease up in his relentless, winning pace just yet.
“I love sport and I don’t see myself retiring yet," he added. "At some point there will be a day when I feel calm and stop, but I don’t see myself there yet. If I do I will look for some kind of challenge and continue working with kids.”
Based on the skills and passion shown in Doha, Farah will also certainly continue to closely follow football matches in the coming years.