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UK Athletics

Mo and ‘foe’ unite to boost Norwich Union GB

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Mo Farah
Mo Farah racing at the European Cross Country last year
Former European Under 23 5000m Champion Chris Thompson (Aldershot, Farnham and District) praised the UK Athletics ‘team’ at Loughborough University that has got him fit enough to go altitude training in South Africa with his biggest domestic rival, this summer’s European senior 5000m Silver medallist Mo Farah (Newham and Essex Beagles).


As the duo settled into their training base at Potchefstroom in South Africa’s North West Provence, Thompson – who pipped Farah for the 2003 European Under 23 5000m title, who receives lottery support from UK Athletics as a London 2012 prospect – talked of his eagerness to make up for time lost to injury.


Shin problems kept him out of action throughout last year and his carefully orchestrated return this summer ended with disappointment at the European Championships in Gothenburg. He went out of the 5000m in the qualifying round, 10th in his heat in 14:10.27, before Farah bravely won the silver medal in the final in 13:44.79 – a performance that helped persuade the British Athletics Writers Association to name him their Male Athlete of the year.


Now Farah and Thompson – domestic rivals and international team mates throughout their athletics careers – are uniting in their preparation for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Italy in December … though Thompson points out his initial big date is 25 November, when the Trials will be held at the UK Cross Challenge in Liverpool’s Sefton Park.


Thompson said: “I seem to be a very delicate athlete these days. Last Wednesday I reacted after a hill session and immediately had a scan. I really wanted to run for my club at the National Six Stage but my priority is four weeks’ training in South Africa. The doctor’s advice was that I might make it worse if I ran in Sutton Park – so I did a far worse job, I spectated.


“I wanted to run but, given my history, I didn’t want to take the risk. It’s difficult to readjust after the gung-ho attitude I’ve had to training. But I am in good hands and it’s better to have a team of people holding me back than trying to make me train when maybe I shouldn’t. I feel so confident in what they are doing for me.


“My priority is to get picked for the European Cross. To be honest, I want an individual medal as well as a team medal.


“Mo and myself got quite a few medals as Juniors and we’ve both been in a senior men’s team that got onto the European Cross podium. We both want more, though!”


Thompson was a member of Norwich Union GB Juniors teams that won silver medals in 1998 and gold medals in 1999 before he took both individual and team silver in 2000.


Farah is based at UKA’s Endurance Performance Centre at St Mary’s University Twickenham, where he is coached by UKA Senior Performance Manager for Endurance, Alan Storey. At European Cross Country Championships, he led Norwich Union GB to the team gold medals in 1999, when he finished 5th individual; the team silver medals in 2000, when he was tripped but got up to finish 7th; and to the team gold medals in 2001, when he also won the individual silver medal.


Both Farah and Thompson firmly believe they can add to their medals tallies in Italy on 10 December – providing all goes to plan in South Africa over the next four weeks.