Tuesday, December 25, 2012
RT: So Mo, which double changed you most?
Mo: Becoming the father of twin girls. The birth was hard, but brilliant. Tougher than winning two gold medals. On the track, you know what you’re capable of, but being at the birth you have no control. It’s scary – I was so proud of Tania. I was a helpless spectator.
Now you know how we felt when you set off!
But you did have faith, didn’t you? If the crowd didn’t cheer me that much, I don’t think I would have won it. It was all so close.
How much time have you spent with the twins?
Since we moved to America [he set up home in Portland, Oregon, last year with his wife Tania and seven-year-old, Rhianna], we’ve got into a routine. I run 70 miles a week. Soon it will be 120 again. I train in the morning, come back for lunch, then go for a run again, then the gym… I’ve spent every minute with them when I’m not running. I’m involved.
Fully involved – nappies, feeding?
Yes, hands-on – changing nappies, the whole lot! It triggers something in you as a human being, because you forget what your parents did for you. But when you become a parent, you’re like, “Whoa! It’s hard work.” No wonder your parents always tell you off! They’ve done a lot for you.
So, you and Tania feed a twin each?
I normally look after Aisha, and my wife looks after Amani. Putting them to bed, getting up in the middle of the night… one of them wakes at 4.30am, the other one not long after that – so it’s not too bad.
Do you remember your first Christmas in Britain?
Not really. Nobody really celebrated it in my family because we’re all practising Muslims. But soon I couldn’t wait for Christmas – as a kid I remember realising everybody gave you cards, then you had to buy cards to give out, too.
So, what are you getting your twins for Christmas?
They’ve each got one of my medals. They can’t have more than that! Aisha has got the 10,000m and Amani has the 5,000m: their names are engraved on them now. I’m having them framed for Christmas. But I’m not hanging the medals in their room. They have to realise what that medal is – you can’t just give it to them. They’re theirs, but they have to see what they mean and how I came to have them.
Which of those two medals meant most?
The 5,000m. Not many athletes have achieved what I achieved [he’s only the seventh], and to be the best you must back it up – and I did that. Being so tired after the 10,000m and coming back again to win the 5,000m as well wasn’t easy.
You’re a twin yourself, aren’t you?
Yes, and my wife’s dad is a twin, too. My twin brother Hassan came over from Somalia after the Olympics. We’ve lived two different lives, we were eight when we were separated. He’s a little chubby, though. Not skinny like me! But he doesn’t run 120 miles a week.
Will you be running on Christmas Day?
Of course I’ll be running! I’m going to run twice, because my rivals will probably only run once, so I’ll have done more than anyone else. I’ll try to get 17 miles in at least. That’s a minimum. When I come back, my wife cooks a lovely meal – I’ll be making excuses, saying, “I’m looking after the kids…” – and then we’ll just chill out. Then you’ll sit down and watch… Home Alone! You can’t beat it. I like Denzel Washington in Man on Fire. That’s probably my favourite movie, but at Christmas it’s the Home Alone movies. Home Alone 3 is my favourite.
Which TV programmes can’t you miss?
Friends, The Cube – I’m the only man to win The Cube! But Rhianna will control the remote. There are always great movies on, the same on Boxing Day too, although I’ll be watching Arsenal play West Ham.
What’s your New Year wish?
To win gold at next summer’s world championships. In both events. And I want a baby boy. I can take him to football matches. I’m looking forward to a boy who can play for the Gunners.