LONDON – British Muslim, Sir Mo Farrah, has beaten the odds and won the coveted BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, beating 11 other candidates, including Formula 1 legend Lewis Hamilton and para-athletics superstar Jonnie Peacock.
Though Farah was not present at the awards ceremony, a live stream was set up allowing him to speak of his win.
The father of four, who has won three world gold medals, said, “It’s pretty amazing, it’s hard to think about what I’ve done over the years, to win this. I did honestly come out tonight thinking, ‘Yeah, maybe, top three, and see how it goes’.”
“Because we’ve got amazing superstars in sports, Anthony Joshua, Lewis, Jonnie Peacock. It’s amazing,” he added. “And when you compare yourself with other athletes, yeah I could finish in the top three,” he added.
“You just have to dig deep, keep on working,” he said before thanking everyone who supported him, adding that he was “looking forward to the marathon.”
He also urged younger generations to go for their dreams in their pursuit of success.
“For all the youngsters out there, for the people out there: You can work hard and you can achieve your dreams. Anything is possible in life. If you believe in it. Work at it. And keep grafting. Anything is possible… I just can’t believe I’ve won,” he said.
Born in Somalia, Mo is a four-time Olympic champion. He was awarded a Knighthood by the Queen in November.
Mo secured the highest number of public votes at 83,524, ahead of Jonathan Rea on 80,567, the first moto-racer to win three successive World Superbike awards.
Responding to Mo’s win, Olympic gold medalist Denise Lewis said, “Finally!!!!!!! Well done Mo Farah at last the recognition you deserve for your brilliance.”
A devout Muslim, Mo has spoken about howreligion plays an important role in his life.
“You’ve got to believe in God. Everything happens for a reason, so you shouldn’t get wound up,” Mo said.
“I think the way I am, the way I’m chilled out, has a lot to do with being Muslim and having faith. It also says in the Quran that you must work hard in whatever you do, so I work hard in training and that’s got a lot to do with being successful… I normally pray before a race, I read dua, think about how hard I’ve worked and just go for it.”
Some took to Twitter to express their frustration at Mo winning, while others such as John Coxon, came to his defense saying, “#MoFarah worthy winner of a purely public vote – get over it not only a superb athlete, great role model & Brit (ex Somalian refugee, Muslim, now knight of the realm – lot of trolls appear to have a problem with that & references to him doping is totally libelous fantasy.”
Robert Blackwood went a step further, “And how wonderful in a turbulent time of #Brexit and the rise of a denigrating attitude towards minorities to see one of the shining stars of #immigration and a paradign of #contributingtosociety winning #SPOTY #congratulations #mofarah.”
Designed to recognize excellence in sports, Sports Personality Of The Year was first awarded in 1954.
Previous winners have included Andy Murray, Nigel Mansell, Henry Cooper and Damon Hill. The recipient of the award must either be British, or live in Britain and play a significant amount of their sport in Britain. Mo moved to the UK at the age of 8.