SIR Chris Hoy has offered a qualified defence of Mo Farah’s apparent decision to skip next year’s Commonwealth Games, saying the world and Olympic champion must have good reasons behind the decision.
Although accepting that the English distance runner would have been one of the biggest stars at Glasgow 2014, Hoy insisted the Games were bigger than any single individual, andpredicted that some of the biggest names in British sport would still appear.
“He would have been without a doubt one of the biggest names of the whole Games but, unless you know what’s going on with him, it’s hard to make a call,” Hoy said yesterday at the launch in Edinburgh’s Redhall Walled Garden of a partnership between Scottish Athletics and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).
“He has made the decision and it’s a shame for the Games, but the Games are bigger than an individual. They are much bigger than that. It would have been nice to have had him there, but there will be plenty of other athletes to talk about and plenty other exciting things. It’s a shame.”
Farah, who expects to compete mainly in marathons next year, said last week that Glasgow was “not on his list” for 2014 – a statement that led to suggestions that he should not receive any more public funding. But Hoy, who competed at Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006 before missing out on the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi because of a clash with Olympic qualifying events, said that Farah had already done enough to merit his money.
“An athlete receives public funding but their part of the bargain is to win medals for the country and he has done that. I’ve not seen the reason he’s not competing, but I’m sure they will be justifiable. I’m sure he would have liked to have competed.
“Whatever decision he’s come to would not have been taken easily. It’s not something you just think: ‘Och, I just can’t be bothered going’. There will be reasons behind it. I missed Delhi in 2010 and it wasn’t a decision taken lightly, because it’s my only chance to compete for Scotland for a start. But my priority at that point was trying to get qualifying points for the Olympics.”
Despite Farah’s dominance over 5,000 and 10,000 metres both this year and last, Hoy said there would be a lot more to winning in Glasgow than merely turning up on the day. Given the athlete’s gradual move to the marathon, it would be hard for him – perhaps impossible – to devise a schedule that would enable him to compete at his best.
“I got this a little myself – that I’m a good cyclist, Rebecca Adlington is a good swimmer, Mo is a good runner, we just get out of bed, turn up and win. It’s the way it all fits in – programmes, target, the timing of your season – it’s like a jigsaw that pieces together to peak at the right time.
“You can’t be expected to peak all the time. I wasn’t going as well six weeks before London as I did at the Olympics, for example. You’ve got to plan it and know what the body can deal with.
“Mo has had an amazing season and has performed so well for so long, but he can’t think, ‘I’ll just squeeze this in as well’. Him and his coach have come to a decision and it’s a shame, it would have been fantastic to see him, he’s such a big draw, but never mind.” The participation of Usain Bolt in the Commonwealth Games is also in doubt – the Jamaican has said if he does come to Glasgow, it will be only to run in the 200m. But Hoy is sure that spectators will still see high-quality competition.
“You’ve got the home athletes the home crowd want to see. Gold, silver, bronze or no medals, they’ll be cheering them on.
“That’s one side of the Games, but then they want to see the other Olympic champions and there will be a good handful of British household names from the Olympics. In cycling alone you have Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, the team pursuit boys and maybe Cav [Mark Cavendish], maybe Brad [Sir Bradley Wiggins] – you just don’t know what they’re going to do. There will be more than enough stars to keep the rest of the Commonwealth interested and for home fans it will be about supporting the home teams.”