Mo Farah airlifted to hospital: runner reveals heart drama

Aug 12, 2014
Bill Mann

British athlete explains why he missed Commonwealth Games, but says he is back to his best

Tom Dulat/Getty Images

Mo Farah, one of the stars of the European Athletics Championships beginning today in Zurich, has revealed details of a dramatic breakdown earlier in the year, which saw him hospitalised for several days. The British double Olympic champion collapsed after a training run last month and had to be airlifted to hospital when medics thought he was having a heart attack.

Farah, who pulled out of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow citing illness, says in reality his condition was far worse than people were led to believe.

"I basically had a tooth taken out because it was chipped and it got infected," explained Farah, who competes in the 10,000m tomorrow and the 5,000m on Friday. "I was in a bit of pain, but went for a run, and when I came back I literally collapsed on the bathroom floor, completely knocked out."

Farah told the BBC that when he regained consciousness, he phoned his training partner and friend Cam Levins, a Canadian who finished third in the Commonwealth Games 10,000m final. "I was in so much pain from my stomach, and so he called an ambulance and it took me to hospital," continued Farah. "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."

Though doctors could find no reason for his collapse, the 31-year-old Farah, who also blacked out after the New York half marathon in March, was released from hospital after four days and given the all-clear to resume training at the high altitude base at Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees.

"I was doing a track session and Paula Radcliffe [the British 2005 Marathon world champion] was timing me and she told me I should stop," said Farah. "When someone like Paula tells you to stop, you know there is something wrong."

Farah said he was bitterly disappointed he couldn't compete in the Commonwealth Games "for all the people who bought tickets," but believes he is now back in great shape and looking to repeat his double triumph at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona. "As an athlete it all started at those Europeans," he said. "Once I'd won there you've got the confidence and then it was about the worlds where I won and came second, but the Europeans is where it all started."

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