Sir Mo Farah will swap his running spikes for football boots to play in a charity match in aid of victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Britain’s greatest athlete joins a stellar line-up of celebrities and stars of the game, with funds raised going through London Community Foundation to the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund before being distributed to survivors and towards community projects.
Farah will join actor Damian Lewis, singers Olly Murs, Tinie Tempah and Marcus Mumford and former footballers Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and David Seaman in Saturday’s match.
Four-time Olympic champion Farah said he was left “heartbroken” by the tragedy and issued a rallying cry to Londoners to get behind the #Game4Grenfell match at QPR’s home ground, Loftus Road, and show “we haven’t forgotten about them”.
Farah, who grew up in Hounslow, said: “The whole world was shocked by what happened at Grenfell Tower but, as a born-and-bred Londoner, it was properly heartbreaking to see. I just hope that this match shows the community that we haven’t forgotten about them and that we will do everything we can to support the surviving victims.”
He quipped that normally he “wouldn’t be nice about a London club that isn’t Arsenal”, the team he supports, but paid tribute to QPR for aiding survivors and helping rebuild the community. After the fire in June, the club turned its ground, which is minutes from the tower, into a relief centre distributing aid. It hosted counselling sessions and provided free summer school training sessions for child survivors and others at the Westway Sports and Fitness Centre.
Farah, who won his last track race in Zurich on Thursday, said: “It’s great to see everything that QPR is doing to help. I grew up in a part of London that wasn’t posh and was quite tough at times. But sport has that power to bring people together, from all backgrounds. That’s what football is doing here. It’s great to see.”
Farah said he was at a training camp in France preparing for the World Athletics Championships when the fire broke out. “I remember seeing the footage on the news and not believing what I was seeing. It was like it was a disaster movie, just shocking. I think every father would see something like that and just think, ‘What if that was my family?’ Everyone is thinking the same thing — this can never be allowed to happen again.”
With refugees among the victims and survivors, he said the fire made him think of when he came to Britain aged eight after fleeing war-torn Somalia to join his father. He said: “It is not what should happen when people come to the UK for a safe haven. As a Londoner, and someone with a family, it did make it so hard to see what happened.
“People have come together to help the community to recover and that’s what this match is all about.”
He said the fact that 180 households left homeless were still in hotels 10 weeks on was “concerning”. “The situation may be complicated, but we need to support the victims and help them get their lives back on track as soon as possible. New and fair housing is the first step.” More than 2,000 complimentary tickets will be given to those directly affected by the fire, including families, the emergency services, volunteers, residents and others who helped with recovery efforts.
Tickets for #Game4Grenfell, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, are £15 for adults, £5 for concessions. To buy, call the QPR box office on 08444 777 007 or visit game4grenfell.com, where you can also donate. The match will be aired exclusively on Sky 1 and Pick.
Mo Farah aiming to challenge Kipchoge, Wanjiru in London Marathon
AFP — LONDON – British athletics great Mo Farah admitted Tuesday he faces an uphill battle to win Sunday’s London marathon with the likes of two-time winner Eliud Kipchoge in the field but says he will fight for a podium place.
The 35-year-old Somalia-born runner — who twice achieved the 5,000-10,000m Olympic double — said one bonus for his third attempt is that he no longer has to think about conserving energy for a track campaign.
Farah, who stopped at the halfway point in the 2013 race and finished eighth in 2014, retired from the track at the end of last season after just missing out on a third successive world championship 5km-10km double in London.
“It’s a great feeling not to have the same pressure as I do on the track,” Farah told a pre-race press conference.
“If the guys set off at world-record pace, I’ll go with them, why not? A win would be amazing for me. It’s going to be different but every race I go into I aim to fight for a podium place.”
Farah, whose decision to not train full-on for the 2014 London Marathon paid off as he went on to win European gold at 5km and 10km, said he had mapped out a strategy for the race.
“My aim is to stick to my own plan,” said Farah. “The team at the London Marathon have put together an amazing field with guys like Eliud Kipchoge and Daniel Wanjiru.
“I’m only ranked 27th, so I just have to stick to my plan and see what happens.”
Farah, now living in London after splitting from controversial US coach Alberto Salazar, said he had no regrets about switching to the road even though he cast an envious glance at the competitors in the distance events at the Commonwealth Games.
“I watched the Commonwealth Games and I wondered whether I could have done that double (5,000m and 10,000m),” he said. “Maybe. But as an athlete you have to set yourself new challenges. You have to enjoy what you do.”
Canadian Mohammed Ahmed wins silver medal in Commonwealth 5,000M
CANADIAN PRESS — GOLD COAST, Australia — Canadian Mohammed Ahmed earned silver Sunday in the 5,000 metres on the first day of track and field at the Commonwealth Games.
Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei won gold in 13 minutes 50.83 seconds, ahead of Ahmed in 13:52.78 and Kenya’s Edward Zakayo in 13:54.06.
“I’ve been at the cusp for many years, but I finally get to stand on the podium and hopefully (one day) I get to climb one more step,” said the 27-year-old Ahmed, who was fifth in the 5,000 and sixth in the 10,000 at the 2014 games in Glasgow.
Ahmed was sixth in the 5,000 and eighth in the 10,000 at last year’s world championships, both Canadian-best finishes. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, he was fourth and 32nd, respectively, in the races.
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Ahmed spent the first 10 years of his life in Kenya before his family moved to St. Catharines, Ont.
Around 500 Somali youth participate in historic marathon
Somalia has hosted its first mini-marathon in three decades. The event is aimed at seeking international support for Somali youth; and was organised by the country’s ministry of sports. CGTN’s Abdulaziz Billow is in Mogadishu and filed this report.