Mo Farah has won this year’s Great North Run for the fourth time. What an amazing athlete and genuinely nice person he is. Since London 2012 Mo has defended his 5000m title and won gold in the 10000m. These achievements along with all his previous record breaking wins have made him the most successful athlete in the history of European athletic championships. This, his fourth successive win of the run was in itself an unique achievement and he remains as popular as ever with his ‘hands on the head’ salute and a natural humility. His knighthood which made him ‘Sir Mo’ was well deserved and acknowledged the tremendous achievements of an eight-year-old who came from Somalia with little English and the rest, as we say, is history.
Mo Farah’s success did not, of course, happen overnight but was the result of hard and committed training schedules and the support of those who recognised his abilities. It was his PE teacher Alan Wilkinson who first recognised Mo’s potential and encouraged him, following his success in the junior ranks to even greater athletic achievements. Mo’s sporting ambition was to play for Arsenal football club; it was not to be, and Arsenal’s loss has, thankfully, become the gain of the athletic world. I wonder if we would ever have heard of Mo Farah if Mr Wilkinson had not seen and
recognised that immense potential. Who knows?
Jesus encouraged his disciples to excel in the ways of love and service. He taught them ways of self-sacrifice, of going that extra mile and of befriending and encouraging those who were often considered to be beyond redemption. He called simple fishermen to be his disciples and seeing their potential they eventually became fearless apostles who would take his message of love and new beginnings that would change the world. Through the ages that dynamic message of Jesus’ love has been handed down from one generation of his followers to the next.
That same potential for good is in us all and we can make such a difference when we are sensitive to the needs of those around us. In going that extra mile in care and kindness we too will cross the winning line and be confident that in some, be it even in a small way, we will have made life easier for a neighbour, friend or even a stranger. An old song says it all ‘If I can help somebody as I pass along then my living will not be in vain’ Well done Mr Wilkinson!