What started as an infected tooth ended in Mo Farah collapsing in his bathroom and being airlifted to hospital due to concerns over his heart.
The details of the illness which forced the double Olympic gold medallist out of the Commonwealth Games make frightening reading – but he is now ready to get back on the medal trail at the European Championships in Zurich.
The 31-year-old was expected to be one of the star turns of Glasgow 2014, only to pull out just days before competition got under way at Hampden Park as he continued his recovery from the illness.
It was known at the time that Farah had been admitted to an American hospital with abdominal pains, but the degree of problem in the build-up to the Games makes even his recovery for this week’s Europeans, where he will bid for another 5,000 and 10,000 metres double, impressive.
“I basically had a tooth taken out because it was chipped and it got infected,” he said.
“I was in a bit of pain, but went for a run and when I came back from I run I literally collapsed on the bathroom floor, completely knocked out.
“I had my phone in my pocket, so when I woke up and became conscious I called Cam [Levins] my training partner, the [Canadian] guy who came third at the Commonwealth Games, and he came round and got me on to my bed.
“I was in so much pain from my stomach and so he called an ambulance and it took me to hospital. I then had to be airlifted to the main hospital as they thought something was going on with my heart – it was just crazy.
“I was in hospital for four days and it was scary, but these things happen and so I missed quite a lot of running.
“I would have loved to have come back and continued the road to the Commonwealth Games, which I’d have loved to do.
“I didn’t want to disappoint my fans and all those who had bought tickets, but I just wasn’t ready – I was nowhere near ready.
“I did one track session and Paula [Radcliffe] was timing me and she told me I should stop. Someone like Paula telling you to stop, you know there is something wrong and I just wasn’t right – she could see that. It took a lot out of me.
“Later on Paula said I’d taken the easy option, which is not fair as she’d seen me struggle.
“I was quite disappointed, but in myself, Mo Farah, if I’m going to turn up I have to be 100 per cent. I’m not going to turn up in my home country and get beaten.
“A lot of those Kenyan guys I can beat when I’m 100 per cent, but if I’m 80 or 90 per cent I’m just asking to get beaten.”
Farah has done a lot of training since then and feels in “decent shape” after the illness and the “long road” back after his first dalliance with marathon running.
He was disappointed with eighth-placed finish in the London Marathon in April – “I thought I’d have done better,” he admitted – and Wednesday’s 10,000m final in Zurich will be only his second race since then.
Still, that lack of competition should leave Farah fresh to again tackle the long-distance double in a competition which proved to be the catalyst for his subsequent success.
“The Europeans will always be in my heart and, as an athlete, you’ve always to remember where it all started,” he said, referring to the 2010 edition in Barcelona when he topped the podium in both events.
“For the rest of the team, I’ll try to show them that I started here, and that, if you work hard, you can achieve more and hopefully we’ll have a strong team here and win lots of medals.
“At the start of the year I thought about the marathon, which changed the programme, but after the marathon didn’t go so well I thought I want do well – show what can I do.
“The Commonwealths didn’t happen, but now I’m here at the Europeans and I want to come away with two wins.”
Meanwhile, Beth Potter has insisted she can block out the fatigue factor and make her presence felt at the European Championships in tonight’s women’s 10,000 metres final.
The 22-year-old from Glasgow concedes she is still battling past the after-effects of doubling up in the 5000m at the Commonwealth Games following her fifth place in the longer event.
However, she claims there are no regrets about opting against withdrawing from her second Hampden outing rather then resting up for her major championship debut in Zurich.
“I spoke with my coach Mick Woods after the 10,000m and he encouraged me to do the 5,000m,” she said. “I was only a couple of seconds off my personal best. Considering that I hadn’t felt that well after the first race, it went well. And it might even help me in Zurich from using it as a speed work out.
“I ran a PB in the 10k in Glasgow but I’m very confident there’s much more in the bag.
“I know it’s a championships and you want to race for medals. And I’m not thinking about the time. But I do feel I can run much quicker.”