Sir Mo Farah today returned to the Catholic university where he trained as a junior athlete to attend a ceremony in which the campus's athletics track was named after the star.
St. Mary's University, Twickenham was the scene of a celebration of Sir Mo's career, which has seen him win four double titles at successive Olympic and World Championships – an unbeaten record on the track at major international Championships since 2011.
Sir Mo, who is a Muslim born in Somalia, recently made headlines by hitting out at Donald Trump over the President's travel ban, saying he had been made an 'alien' by the 'deeply troubling' executive order and that he would have to tell his four children, 'Daddy might not be able to come home.'
Britain's greatest ever track athlete, Sir Mo trained at St Mary's from 2001-2011. He was awarded a scholarship to the Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC) and continued to train regularly at the facility until he moved to Oregon, USA.
Today, Sir Mo returned to the campus at Strawberry Hill to meet with young athletes from the local community and the current generation of athletes from EPACC.
'It is such an honour to be here today and to have this track named after me – thank you so much, St Mary's,' Sir Mo said. 'I have very fond memories of my time here as I developed from being a talented junior to a world-class athlete. St Mary's and all the people associated with the EPACC have been a big part of my journey. I really hope that these facilities continue to inspire the next generation of young British athletes.'
St Mary's Vice-Chancellor, the former British Ambassador to the Holy See Francis Campbell said: 'To have something named after you is a tremendous recognition of one's achievements. It serves to inspire future generations to expand on the accomplishments of the honoured person. While Mo has set the bar very high, I am sure that the naming of our athletics track will inspire our current and future generations of student athletes to go out and achieve all they can on the world stage.'
The Director of Sport at St Mary's, Andrew Reid-Smith, added: 'Mo was the first runner on the St Mary's endurance programme. He trained at the University for 10 years on his way to becoming one of the greatest distance runners ever. We are very proud of Mo's achievements and it is a fitting tribute that the track, one that he's spent so much time on and that supports beginners, talented athletes and GB runners alike, is being named after him.'
Sir Mo recently became the first athlete to win three long-distance doubles at successive World Championship and Olympic Games, and then secured his place in the history books by winning a fourth double gold in Rio 2016. He was knighted in the Queen's New Year Honours list for his services to athletics.
St Mary's is ranked as London's number one university for student experience by Times Higher Education.