Mo Farah first among equals again as he claims 2017 Sporting Hero title

Gold standard: Farah’s world title-winning run helped clinch the title Credit: Getty

Britain’s greatest athlete storms home to claim the Sporting Hero of the Year title, beating off competition from some of 2017's highest achievers

So there was a golden double for Mo Farah in 2017 after all. He may have shocked the sporting world by winning only one gold medal rather than his customary two at last summer’s Athletics World Championships in London but he produced a trademark late surge to storm into 2018 in style. 

Farah has been voted the Liontrust Sporting Hero of the Year to add to his triumph at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in December. 

Medal man: Farah poses with his World Championship gold Credit: Getty

The awards cement his place as the nation’s sporting favourite. Telegraph readers had voted Farah the Liontrust Sporting Hero of the Month for August in the wake of his dramatic victory in the 10,000m at London’s Olympic Stadium – Britain’s only individual gold at the World Championships. 

As August’s winner, Farah took his place against the other monthly heroes from the year and ran away with the overall 2017 award too, winning from fellow athlete Laura Muir, who won two successive monthly awards, in second place and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton in third. 

Farah, 34, had been a hot favourite to complete a fifth world or Olympic “double double” of 5,000m and 10,000m golds in London. He won the 10,000m to claim his 10th global gold medal on the track, six more than any other British athlete has managed. 

Then the unthinkable happened. His six-year unbeaten run at major events finally came to an end when Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris took the 5,000m gold at London’s Olympic Stadium and Farah won the silver.

Double winner: but Muir was edged out in the yearly vote Credit: Getty

But in a strange way defeat – and his honest, dignified acceptance of it – may have been what finally won over the British public. Despite lighting up the London Olympics in 2012 with golds at 5,000m and 10,000m, then repeating the feat at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Rio Olympics, Farah had struggled in the popularity stakes. 

Shortlisted five times for the BBC Sports Personality award, he had placed only once, coming third in 2011. That all changed in 2017. 

The Somalia-born athlete, who moved to London at the age of eight, had said it would be his final year on the track before concentrating solely on marathon running from 2018, so there was something of the swansong to his season and a recognition of his remarkable career achievements. 

As far as 2017 was concerned, Farah avenged his London defeat by Edris by beating the Ethiopian in his final track race – a Diamond League 5,000m in Zurich in August. Farah prevailed in an astonishing finish in which Edris ended up on the floor, allowing the Briton to win the first Diamond Trophy of his career. 

Crowd favourite: the British public have taken Farah to their hearts Credit: Getty

In September Farah stepped back up in distance to win the Great North Run for the fourth year in a row, showing his mastery of the half-marathon. 

Having been knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours List at the beginning of the year, Farah was at Buckingham Palace in November to receive his honour from the Queen. There followed his surprise win at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony and now the Liontrust Sporting Hero of the Year award to cap a wonderful year and a glorious track career. 

At the age of 34, Farah now has his sights trained on the marathon and possible Olympic glory in Tokyo in 2020. 

He has moved back to London from the United States, where he spent six years training with Alberto Salazar, and will be coached by Gary Lough, Paula Radcliffe’s husband. 

Lough guided Radcliffe to a women’s marathon world record in 2003 that still stands but Olympic glory eluded her. Britain has never had an Olympic marathon champion, but then we have never had an athlete like Mo Farah.

Discover previous Sporting Heroes at tgr.ph/liontrust