It was over four years ago Tom Farrell decided to move across the pond to explore his academic and athletics development after earning an athletics scholarship at the Oklohoma State University in the USA.
In October last year he then moved to the Oregon Track Club and has since been under the guidance of lead-coach, Mike Rowland and together they are already reaping amazing rewards.
Farrell delivered an almost effortless performance of 13:42.20 over Andy Vernon in the men’s 5000m at the British Athletics Championships (4 July), and with his national title win, secured his spot with team GB for Beijing.
A few days later, Farrell had a SB run of 13:10.48 (Heusden-Zolder, BEL) which was what he needed ahead of his IAAF World Championship debut. He spoke of his experience and his journey to Beijing: “It was an amazing experience, incredible atmosphere and the stadium was amazing. This was a year where I didn’t really expect too much, as I was under a new coach, I went into the season not expecting a great deal, and then the season picked up speed after I ran close to my PB in May at Stanford (13:17.87). Then I got a big block of training and ran really well in the trials and thought: I’m actually in descent shape. Then I went over to Belgium and I ran a PB.
“To run a PB to better a 3-year-old PB was amazing. I went into Worlds with a pretty positive and confident attitude and I wanted to just stick myself in the heats see what happened and I made the final.
“I wasn’t quite satisfied with how the finals went but that was just because of my competitive nature, I wanted to better. I could have been anywhere from fifteenth to second and I probably wouldn’t have been satisfied. Looking back now, I’m really happy. It’s a great stepping stone hopefully for next year.”
We asked Farrell about how he is able to adjust and transition from being based in the U.S. when he is back competing during the European season: “I think that one of the huge benefits is that I remain massively grounded.
“One of my main training partners ran 13:02 (5000m) last year, and 27:33 at 10,000m this year, which are world class times, so for me running 13:10, I’m still trying to get my head around that. It’s a great group we’ve got, so yes things are different, but Mark is English so he keeps me on the right track and we kind of got the season right for where we needed to be.
“We are lucky enough in comparison to the Americans that we don’t have to be on our ‘A’ star game at trials. We still have to be running well so I will say I ran well at our trials but I ran a lot better for worlds. I know some of the Americans will struggle with that because it’s so hard to make their team.
“I think with Mark’s English and European background, he understands the European and British system well.”
With the World Indoor Championships taking place in Portland, Oregon where the British Champion is based, his sights are also set on this as part of his 2016 campaign: “It’s certainly on the list of things I need to talk to Mark about. We are just getting this season done with first, and I will take a couple of weeks then head back to Oregon and meet with Mark and talk about it.
“With it being in my back garden I would love to do it. It’s in Nike’s hometown so it would be great to do it. Obviously, I have to qualify and make the team, which won’t be easy as there is only two spots, but it should be an amazing opportunity and hopefully we can get there.”
As for his plans for the 2016 Rio Olympic Summer Games, Farrell stated: “It’s looking good, I’ve ran two qualifying times this year which counts for next year, so it will all be about the trials. We can’t get too ahead of ourselves but things are going well and with what we have learnt with each other this year, hopefully we can take that forward into next year and try and improve in certain areas. Another solid year next year like we’ve just had would be an amazing experience to be in Rio.”
One of the major issues that elite and aspiring elite athletes face throughout their careers is having the right set up. Time and time again, it’s an issue which will always play a vital part of your progression in sport, and Tom Farrell seems to be heading in the right direction by simply having the right support.
Facts about Tom Farrell
Interview by Marilyn Okoro
Feature & Photography by TrackField97