Mo Farah is not European so his half-marathon best is a ‘record for Somalia’, says former title holder

Spaniard Fabian Roncero says Somali-born Farah’s new European record of 59mins 32secs does not count and he remains the “fastest born in Europe”

Mo Farah is not European so his half-marathon record is a 'record for Somalia', says former title holder

Mo Farah has found himself embroiled in another row over his nationality after the Spaniard whose European half-marathon record he broke on Sunday called the feat a “record for Somalia”.

Farah became the first British runner to break the hour-mark when recording a time of 59mins 32secs to win the Lisbon half-marathon on Sunday, taking 20 seconds off the European best set by Spaniard Fabian Roncero 14 years ago.

Asked what he thought of Farah’s run, Roncero said “what was broken in Lisbon is a record for Somalia”, stressing that he remains the “fastest born in Europe”. Farah was born in Somalia before moving to Britain aged eight.

“Although the official lists say that Mo Farah now holds the half-marathon record, for me the 800m European record holder remains Sebastian Coe, the 1,500m [Spaniard] Fermin Cacho, the 5,000m [German] Dieter Baumann and 10,000m [Portuguese] Antonio Pinto,” said Roncero.

In fact Farah holds both the 1,500m and 10,000m records, while the 5,000m mark is held by Moroccan-born Belgian Mohammed Mourhit.

“For me, an athlete who was born in Kenya is Kenyan and one born in Somalia is Somali forever, and that is the opinion of the people with whom I speak,” continued Roncero.

Mo Farah ran the fastest indoor two miles in history in Birmingham last month

“Besides, I am convinced that 95 per cent of athletes still feel nationalised by their country of origin.”

Despite insisting he still considered himself to be the fastest half-marathon runner in Europe, Roncero said Farah remained a “great athlete”, albeit one from a different continent.

“I have nothing against Africans,” he added. “On the contrary, I consider them superior to European runners but with respect to the records, I say what I feel and I will never lie.

Mo Farah will be looking to retain his world 5,000m and 10,000m titles later this year

“Farah is a great athlete but for me the records in Europe are what make European athletes.”

Only last month Farah was caught up in a feud with British team-mate Andy Vernon, with the double Olympic and world champion claiming Vernon had suggested he did not deserve the European 10,000 metres title he won last summer as he was not European.

Vernon admitted making a “tongue in cheek” comment but insisted it was not a reference to nationality and he had never discounted Farah as being British.


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