Friday, 16 August 2013

The rewards of nurturing talent

I have spent a large part of my life encouraging people to fulfill their potential.  Perhaps the most surprising instance was something that took place on 25th October 1998.

At that time I used to run in quite a lot of road races and I can't remember what took me to a venue near Heathrow that Sunday for the Bedfont Lakes Five Mile Run.  It was certainly some way off the beaten track for me.  Anyway, I found my way there and I remember that the course was wet and hilly, with a lot of twists and turns.  As I was jogging round, warming up, I fell in with two African looking guys aged about fifteen.  We chatted as we ran and I asked if they had  run on this course before - no, neither had I.  We got back to the start and wished each other luck in the race.  There were now quite a lot of competitors gathered there, the gun went off and we all went storming along the footpaths.

Although I'd started quite fast I still managed to overtake a couple of runners near the end and finished up 7th, so I was quite pleased.  I jogged back along the course, warming down, and caught up with the same two teenagers I'd seen before.  How did they get on?  "Oh, I won it" one of them replied.  "You must be a keen runner" I remarked.  "Yes" he said "I used to do football but now I'm doing running."  "Well" I said "you should keep up with it.  You could do really well.  What's your name?"  "Mohamed Farah" he replied.

And the moral of that story is that encouraging talent can bring unexpected rewards.

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Good luck to Mo Farah this afternoon.  He has a very difficult task and winning is not a foregone conclusion

Statistical note: I was 7th of exactly 100 finishers in a time of 31:59.  Mo Farah's time was 28:58.  Today he'd be capable, on that course, of about 21 minutes