18 Feb Mo Class: Why Vernon is saying what we are all thinking
By James Fairbourn
Neither Mo Farah nor Andy Vernon have emerged from yesterday’s Twitter spat with a great deal of credit. Vernon – true to say – has form for tweeting his mind and getting into trouble. And it is perhaps refreshing to hear something from the Oregon-based Farah that has not been screened by 94 Nike lawyers before he tweeted it.
However, whilst Vernon is at worst petulant (whilst making a more than valid point), Farah adopts the age old Nike formula – those not with us are most certainly against us.
To deal first with Mr Vernon’s point. Farah will – for the upteenth time – take part in a race on British soil that he has next to no chance of losing. When are British Athletics going to stop taking their audience for granted and actually offer ‘their’ superstar some meaningful competition.
The GNR last year should have served as a lesson – the supposedly ‘knowledgeable’ British public will not be taken for mugs by a Mo Farah publicity stunt. It must be frustrating for someone like Vernon – on the edge of a life altering performance – to watch so much adulation and so much money fall on a vanity project largely conducted on another continent. It’s embarrassing and demeaning to the rich history distance running has in this country.
Farah’s ripostes to Vernon’s chiding will no doubt soon disappear from his feed once his advisers have had a look at them. What is interesting is that Vernon clearly struck a nerve. A cursory glance through the responses Farah gets to his mundane and on message ramblings reveal far worse. But Farah chose to respond – and vehemently so – to a relatively harmless hashtag from his teammate.
Here is what will happen in the coming 48 hours:
1. Andy Vernon will be forced to ‘revise’ his opinion of Mo’s non-existent challengers in Birmingham
2. Mo – having deleted the offending tweets – will say that it ‘was just banter’ and that he and Andy are great mates.
3. There will be a public love in when they next meet up with British Athletics highlighting how well the pair get on.
4. The public give just a little bit less of a shit about distance running than they did before the whole thing started.
That’s the problem here. This is not Ovett goading Coe. This isn’t mind games. This is the equivalent of Wayne Rooney having a go at a Man Utd youth team player. Farah is paid the big bucks to take this kind of nonsense from anybody. It’s just a shame that it took a fellow GB athlete to point out the ludicrous Farah-show that exists in UKA circles to the attention of the national press. Surely serious athletics writers should’ve been asking these questions for a while now.
As we move closer to the inevitable result of a Farah/Bolt double in Beijing, it’s time the wider athletics community started publicly asking the questions everyone is quietly doing so. More power to #teamandy.