Eliud Kipchoge vs. Mo Farah, photo courtesy of the London Marathon
The story of the week was to be the amazing race between Eliud and Mo. And, to an extent it was. But, the presser by Mo Farah on his treatment in Ethiopia became bigger. It is a lesson from which Mo Farah can hone his game as he goes for bigger things in Doha and Tokyo. I offer a lesson I took from my father as a case in point.
My father is one of the finest managers that I have ever met. He managed departments at Ford Motor plants both in Saint Louis, Missouri and Milpitas, California. After that, he managed facilties at two companies and ended as a consultant for NUMMI, the auto cooperative between GM and Toyota. What made my father such a good manager? He understood the human condition.
As a teenager, I worked on the line full timer at Fordr for nearly a year, when I left the monastery. I worked 3 summers at Ford to pay for college, thanks to my Dad’s help in finding a job. The men who worked for my father respected him. My father is a combination of the heartfelt and the profane. He reads people well, and he knows when to commend and when to offer thoughtful criticism. My father would be given departments that were “hard to manage”. He would build confidence in them, and he would be tough when he had to, but he always had their respect. These guys were bikers, Vietnam vets, and young men and women who many times had bad experiences with management. My father could read them, and he treated them with respect and, when needed, with humor.
I knew first hand how they respected my father, as several of them came to my defense when a smart comment almost landed me with a severe beating by a fellow auto line worker. Assembly lines were tough places. A college kid coming in was an easy target. A college kid who did not know how to shut up was a bigger target. I was the latter. They told me that they did this out of respect for my father. I did not know what was about to happen for some time.
One of my father’s biggest lessons was ” You know you are in trouble when you believe your own B.S.” I always translated that as do not exxagerate one’s own situation or prowess. What Dad really meant was to stay focused on the goal, and forget the other things.
That lesson would be a good one for Mo Farah.
I do not know what happened to Mo Farah in Ethiopia. I suspect that he was robbed and lost his temper. The truth, as it does most of the time, lies between the stories of Mo Farah and Haile Gebrsrelassie. We may never know.
All I know is that we should not have heard about the issue BEFORE the race. Mo Farah had a job to do. His manager, Ricky Simms and coach, Gary Lough supported him, but what could they do? Ricky Simms has had to be the apologist before, and Gary Lough has learned that coaching a global star like Mo is more than observing his daily runs in Ethiopia.
My belief is that, once Mo Farah opened the can of worms, he lost any chance to compete with Eliud Kipchoge.
The big lesson for Mo Farah is that the marathon is not the track. His competitors in the 10,000m and 5,000m held him in awe. He’s the new kid here and Mosinet Geremew, and others want no more than to finish ahead of the highest paid athlete in British athletics.
Mo Farah can and should win an Olympic and World championship marathon medal. To do that, he needs to stay focused, and to ignore the situations like this recent brouhaha like the plague.
Mo Farah needs someone to tell him to cool it, and to walk away. It is called an Ombudsman. It could be a coach or a manager. But, he needs someone that he respects.
The British media have kicked his butt in the past, and he has sued media over their comments. That took him off his game. He was so good on the track, he could still be unfocused and win. Not so in the marathon.
You would never see Eliud KIpchoge do that. Mo Farah, in order to achieve the greatness he feels he is destined for, quite frankly needs to avoid any situation that raises his ire, keep quiet, and let his feet do the talking.
My guess is Mo Farah will learn that from this weekend. It sure is a tough way to run a 2:05.39.
To see more, check out the Guardian piece by Sean Ingle: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/apr/28/mo-farah-london-marathon-haile-gebrselassie-row