Fabian Roncero – the Spanish athlete whose European half marathon record Mo Farah broke in Lisbon on Sunday – has said Farah’s time for 13.1 miles is “the record for Somalia”.
Roncero is reported to have questioned Farah’s nationality in a controversial interview with Spanish news agency EFE, commenting: “What was broken in Lisbon was the Somalian record” and saying that he is still the fastest athlete born in Europe over the distance.
The Spaniard ran 59:52 for the half marathon in 2001 – that mark remaining the European record for 14 years before Farah shaved 20 seconds from it in Portugal.
Farah was born in Somalia but moved to Britain as a child.
“For me, an athlete who was born in Kenya is Kenyan and one born in Somalia is Somali forever,” Roncero is reported to have said.
Double Olympic, world and European track champion Farah also holds the European record for 1500m and 10,000m, while the 5000m record is held by Moroccan-born Belgian Mohammed Mourhit.
“Although the official lists say that Mo Farah now holds the half marathon record, for me the 800m European record holder remains Sebastian Coe, the 1500m Fermin Cacho, the 5000m Dieter Baumann and 10,000m Antonio Pinto,” Roncero is reported to have added, continuing to say how “Farah is a great athlete” and that he “has nothing against African athletes”.
Following news of Roncero’s comments, AW‘s editor Jason Henderson took to Twitter to highlight a tweet he posted during the London 2012 Olympics after Farah’s “British-ness” was questioned.
The tweet, which was retweeted over 1300 times, read: “Farah asked at presser: “Would you have been prouder to have done it for Somalia?” Farah indignant: “Not at all, mate! This is my country!””
Roncero’s comments follow a recent spat between Farah and his fellow British athlete Andy Vernon, with Farah saying how a Twitter argument between the two last month had been fuelled by comments made by Vernon at last year’s European Championships in Zurich.