The powers-that-be took note and Farah today becomes the first male athlete ever to be knighted purely for running.
“It is fantastic both for Mo and for athletics,” said Foster. “In my view this guy is the greatest sportsman Britain has ever had.
“Athletics is a truly global sport and Mo has been at the very top since 2011. No other British sports person that I can think of has dominated at that level for so long.”
Farah, snubbed time and again in the Sports Personality of the Year poll, described the award as a “dream come true”.
He said: “I’m so happy to be awarded this incredible honour from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight.
“Looking back at the boy who arrived here from Somalia, not speaking any English, I could never have imagined where I would be today.”
Since winning his first Olympic titles at London 2012 Farah has, incredibly, failed to make the top-three in the SPOTY vote.
Various theories have been put forward: among them that he is not seen as British – having been born in Somalia – or that his achievements cannot be trusted in light of doping allegations aimed at his coach Alberto Salazar, who denies any wrongdoing.
“Mo is not on drugs and he never has been,” Foster insisted. “I’ve spoken to him about it. I know what he’s like, I know how he reacts.
“In Britain we place a greater scrutiny on our athletes than any other country in the world. I absolutely 100% approve of that. And so does Mo.
“I know how angry he was about the Salazar allegations. He confronted him directly about it and he assured me, ‘If I was involved with a drugs regime of any description I’d be out of there tomorrow’. I believe in him.”
Farah has not threatened a world record at any of the distances he bosses. Often he does not even have the quickest time in the field. Yet time and again he finds a way to win.
“He is the ultimate racer,” Foster said. “Running long distances fast and winning championships are two different skills – Mo possesses more of the latter than anyone ever has.
“It’s amazing how far he’s come since I first commentated on him at the 2001 Junior World Cross Country Championships.
“He finished 59th but still turned up for an interview. ‘Come back when you win something’, I told him politely. He’s done that alright!”
SELECTED AWARD WINNERS
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