Mo Farah mistaken for a beginner in New Orleans

In the UK, Mo Farah can’t walk down the street without being accosted by fans urging him to "do the Mobot" and, Mo being a generous sort, he usually obliges. In the USA, where Farah trains, his profile is somewhat lower.

Just how low became apparent after he had won the New Orleans half-marathon, a warm-up race before Farah turns his attention to marathon running. A local New Orleans TV presenter, LaTonya Norton, seemed to be under the impression that Farah was an amateur who had just turned up and won the race in record time.

"This isn’t your first time?" she asked the double Olympic gold medallist. "Sorry?" a perplexed Farah replied, but stayed polite when she repeated the question. "No it's not my first time," he said, choosing to reinterpret the question to make it look like she was talking about the distance, or the location. "I have done half-marathons before, but not New Orleans. This is my first time in New Orleans."

Norton was none the wiser, continuing to present the story as if it was the tale of a plucky newcomer winning a marathon. Farah then had to explain that the New Orleans event was only a half-marathon, that a marathon was actually twice the distance, which sounds patronising, but the presenter deserved it.

It was rather an extreme example of US parochialism, where they failed to recognise the world’s leading long-distance athlete. Farah was his customary charming and modest self, but lack of recognition in the USA does cause him more serious problems.

Because of his Somali birthplace, US homeland security routinely detain him for questioning when he flies into the States, using their crude form of potential terrorist profiling. Given that Farah and his family are based in Portland Oregon, this is a recurring problem.

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