In Brief

Mo Farah: Twitter spat sets star against Team GB rival

Andy Vernon's suggestion that Mo Farah gets an easy ride provokes a 'remarkable' outburst from the gold medallist

Double Olympic champion Mo Farah traded insults with fellow British athlete Andy Vernon on Tuesday evening in what the Daily Telegraph described as a "remarkable slanging match".

Farah, the Olympic 5,000 and 10,000m gold medallist, makes his first appearance of the new season at the Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday. As is often the case for the top athletes, it promises to be a gentle warm-up to a season that climaxes with the World Athletics Championships in Beijing in August.

But Vernon took to Twitter to express his disdain for the quality of the competition pitted against Farah, writing: "Another stellar field against Mo Farah on home turf this weekend at Birmingham. #joke."

It was a touchy tirade from Vernon, who last summer won medals behind Farah in both the 5,000m and 10,000m at the European Championships. And the champ wasn't having it. Back he came with a tweet of his own. "Shame you didn't make the line up....again #ComeBackWhenYouWinSomethingDecent."

That was a low blow from the 31-year-old Farah and one that Vernon couldn't but rise to, prompting what the Telegraph labelled "a series of school playground insults as the slanging match escalated".  

The 29-year-old Vernon, whose best result was the silver he won behind Farah in last summer's European Championships, sneered:

"Lol Mo Farah I think even you can work out that I can make the cut to the Indoor Grand Prix. Lets hope no one loses their shoe..."

Farah came back with a quip of his own and so it continued for more than an hour with the champ quoting Taylor Swift at one stage and Vernon accusing his rival of blatant self-promotion. Eventually the adolescent argument ended with Farah blasting Vernon for being "an embarrassment" and saying "Taylor swift can probably run faster than you!"

The bizarre barney was uncharacteristic for Farah, who is noted for his slick PR, but this is not the first time Vernon has traded insults on Twitter.

During last summer's Commonwealth Games he became embroiled in a heated exchange with Scottish 800m runner Lynsey Sharp. The Scot won a silver medal 24 hours after being on a hospital drip because of illness, something that seemed to stoke Vernon's ire: "I don't use a drip to get my medals," he said on the social network, to which Sharp replied; "Andy Vermin, I had 5ml of fluid through a drip, about the same volume as one tear I just cried looking at your performances."

Vernon later apologised to her, saying it was a joke that "got out of hand", and by late on Tuesday evening his tweets had toned down. "Don't know how this got so blown up," he declared. "Its no secret that Mo gets weaker fields put together for home races."

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