To win the Olympic Games in my home city is beyond words. This is my home, this is where I grew up.
I don’t watch much of the Olympics. The people who are suddenly huge fans of sports like canoe slalom when their country is in the medal rounds are tiresome. As is the flag-waving jingoism of feeling proud to be “X” nationality just because your country has the fastest yacht team.
I prefer the sports in which every country can compete, the traditional sports of running, jumping, throwing, and erm.. kicking a football. These sports don’t require an Olympic swimming pool and there’s no technological arms race over who can hoist the jib the quickest. Whomever runs the fastest or jumps the furthest, wins. And I honestly don’t care who wins as long as it’s a good race, an incredible jump, or a moment of amazing sportsmanship which overcomes all of the flag waving and teaches us something about the Olympic spirit. Which brings me to the men’s 10,000m race of a few days ago.
Mo Farah was born in Somalia and raised in London. He trained for this XXX Olympics in Oregon under the guidance of Cuban-born coach Alberto Salazar. And by all accounts his “teammate” in his gold-medal winning 10,000m run was the man who came second, American Galen Rupp. Given that diverse background, it only makes sense to me that Mo Farah also calls himself an Arsenal supporter. It also makes sense that so many Gunners embrace Mo so quickly in return. After all we are the Arsenal; the English club with the French manager who once famously said of his players “I don’t look at the passport of people, I look at their quality and their attitude.”
My favorite revelation after the run came from silver medalist Galen Rupp. There was a point about half way through the race where Rupp wanted to tear off with the pack and Mo told him to hold back a bit saying, “Take it easy, mate. You’re going to be all right.” It was enough to calm Rupp down and keep him on pace and revealed a lot about the character of Mo. Mo Farah had no reason to reach out like that to Galen Rupp, USA and Great Britain weren’t officially teammates. Not only that but Mo knew that Galen was his biggest threat. That at the end of the race, Rupp has a superb kick and that Rupp and Farah had the same game plan: use their sprint at the end to win. And so it would have benefited Mo to let Galen run himself down. But Mo and Galen are friends. They train together in Oregon. They play FIFA together when they aren’t training. So, instead of just letting Rupp run himself out, he helped his best friend. Helped a man who is not British. Helped him win the silver medal.
And so it was more than just a great race for me. It was Mo Farah showing the world that it really doesn’t matter where you come from, where you are raised, or who you team up with. It’s about the team and it’s about winning the right way.
We as Arsenal fans know that. The club embraces all fans, no matter where were were born as long as they love the Arsenal. Arsene Wenger will take any player no matter what his passport. And we demand a certain loyalty in return which is why Nasri and now van Persie’s transfers caused so much tumult.
So it was no surprise that Mo Farah, the Somali-born Englishman who is a great teammate and great sportsman, is also a Gunner.