Bolstering his way to national treasure status in recent years, a closer look at the world of British track superstar, Mo Farah, was sure to spark intrigue in marvelling fans all across the globe. The question mark was more around how much unique access his new documentary, No Easy Mile, would gain and how much light would be shed on the famous distance runner’s secrets to success.
As would be expected with any such filming, No Easy Mile spends a portion of time telling us about Farah’s childhood. Born in Somalia, amongst six siblings and a politically chaotic backdrop, Farah was forced to leave for the U.K. at a young age. There is a particular focus made on Farah’s twin brother, Hassan, and their relationship. In an unfortunate turn of events, Hassan, who was due to migrate with the rest of the Farah’s, had fallen ill and was consequently unable to fly. Hassan had to stay put and, at that point, neither twin would have any idea how long their separation would last.
The important element of their separation prompts a fascinating stream of ‘what if’s’. What if the roles were reversed and Mo had been left behind? What if Hassan had joined him? These questions inevitably meander into more interesting thoughts on nature versus nurture. Whilst the questions are posed in the viewer’s mind, they are not quite answered in the depth that might have felt insightful or truly revealing.
The film doesn’t focus on any given part of Farah’s life for long, switching from archived footage to more recent training preparations for the Rio Olympics. There is an emphasis on Farah’s family life, with a number of close snippets from Tania, his wife and long-term partner, and some heart-warming intimate scenes with Farah’s children. The undeniable and underlying reality that Farah is taken away from the family for much of the year because of training, is palpable through the footage, but again there is not a great deal further that the documentary digs into the effect. Farah’s notoriously upbeat character emanates throughout the documentary but doesn’t reveal any sides that we haven’t already seen.
Perhaps most insightful is the mention of less exciting times. There were periods of time where Farah hit walls, not performing as well as he should have. Farah shows his training diary in which he had summarised key personal statistics, allowing him to effectively analyse progress and ultimately improve his game.Inspiringly, Farah puts a huge amount of effort into building strength,leading him to obtain an all-important competitive advantage eventually seeing him through to glorious triumphs.
Farah’s success as a British track athlete is undeniable, contributing to Britain’s record of winning more competitions per person than any other country in the world. His talent and likeability is confirmed in No Easy Mile, showing the humble, dedicated athlete that fans worldwide have come to know and love in recent years.
Whilst it doesn’t go into the amount of detail that might help us understand what really shapes the characteristics and traits of a world champion, it does confirm that there are no shortcuts to success and, in training to be the best, there is no easy mile.