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Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah, has won over a whole new legion of fans on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! with his chilled manner, fear of snakes and love of the floss dance.
And when we chat to Tania, 34, the long-distance runner’s wife, she admits she’s relishing watching her hubby squirm in the castle just as much as we are.
“It’s been enjoyable because it’s something different,” she laughs. “I was nervous for him initially because he’s never done anything like this. Sugar is a big thing for him and he’s got a massive sweet tooth and loves his coffee as well, so I didn’t know how he was going to cope. But he’s done so well.”
Tania and the children are cheering on Mo, 37, from their sofa at home in Surrey. But she admits it’s tough running the household and looking after Rhianna, 15, eight-year-old twins Aisha and Amani, and five-year-old Hussein without their dad. And Hussein, in particular, is struggling without his daddy. “We always miss him when he goes away. He’s been going away since we’ve been married [in 2010],” she tells us.
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Here, Tania reveals Mo’s pre-show worries, which of his fellow campmates she’d love to invite round for dinner and gives us an insight into the couple’s unique love story…
You must be finding things full-on. Is it quite tough without Mo at home?
Without a doubt. My son is struggling the most. Normally, when Mo’s in training, we can speak to him or FaceTime him. Not being able to speak to his dad has been really hard on him. The girls are a bit older, so they understand, but my son’s been a real handful lately.
How are you coping with it?
I’ve got some help, but with four kids it’s never enough. I’m used to Mo being away and handling everything on my own, but it can get stressful. No matter how much I do for them they want dad to give them a hug sometimes and they want dad to play football with them in the garden, and there’s only so much of that I can do.
How are you staying so strong?
I run a lot and I’m studying for a psychology degree. My way of getting through it is to keep as busy as possible. But when the lights are out and the kids are in bed, that’s when I miss him the most. There’s no Mo here and that’s when it gets a bit lonely.
We bet you can’t wait to have him back with you…
Definitely. We’re counting down the days. He’s going away in January for training, so there’s also that to prepare for. It’s a difficult time.
Are the kids watching him on TV?
Yeah. It’s been different for them seeing him in this kind of environment. They find it funny. Like his little floss dance. He does that at home – he and our son do it together.
Can you tell he’s missing you?
Yeah, and you can tell he’s missing the kids, because sometimes he’s been a bit quiet.
Is he a hands-on dad?
Big time! He does a lot of the school runs. When he comes home [from training] he dives into all that stuff. He’ll take the kids to school, make the breakfast and take the kids to the park. He’s very hands-on and that’s why they miss him a lot. It’s a big void.
Has he wanted to do the show for a long time?
He hasn’t had the chance to think about stuff like this because he’s always been focused on the next championships or Olympics. This hasn’t come on his radar until this year, when all the races were cancelled.
How did his nerves going into the castle compare with pre-race jitters?
This was a different type of nervous. He was really laid-back about it until two days beforehand when it dawned on him he was going in. That’s when he realised, “I’m probably going to have to face a snake.” Snakes scare the life out of him. The funniest part was when he had the snake around his neck [in the trial] and just froze. He was the most serious I’ve ever seen him!
Did he consider pulling out because of his fear?
No. When Mo commits himself to something that’s it. Something has to go really wrong for him to pull out.
We’re seeing a more vulnerable side to him. Is it the Mo you know?
Yeah, definitely. What we’re seeing of Mo in the castle is the Mo at home. The vulnerable side is something we’re used to seeing a lot. It takes an awful lot to rub him up the wrong way or annoy him. The vulnerability is a part of him that’s always apparent. He’s still a big softie.
Can you imagine him crying?
I really can’t! I’ve only ever seen him well up once in the 23 years I’ve known him. It was barely even a cry, it was a tiny tear rolling down his cheek. It was when we were coming back from Somalia, when we went to visit his twin brother in 2011. I remember it vividly because he hasn’t cried since.
Who do you think he’s bonding with most in the show?
He seems to be getting on with everyone, but I’d say Shane Richie, because he’s very outgoing, and Beverley Callard and Jordan North. Mo’s the type of guy that gets on with everyone.
Of his fellow celebs, who would you love to have round for dinner?
I think Beverley would be a good laugh and she has some good stories. She has a lovely way about her and I love her honesty.
Is there anyone he doesn’t seem to be getting on with?
Not that I’ve noticed. It takes a lot to push his buttons or get anything other than his placidness.
You and Mo have quite the love story and have known each other since school…
I wouldn’t say we were together from a young age – we were more like brother and sister. He was a few years older than me and we would see each other at break times. We became good friends, because I went to the same running club as him and he lived around the corner. We kept that friendship going for over 13 years until we eventually got together. I didn’t see him as anything other than a brother for so long, but he was always there for me. We go way back.
When did you become more than friends?
It was weird. I hadn’t seen him for a little while, about six months or so, and he messaged me on Facebook and said, “Come and see me at my student digs.” We watched a DVD and that was the first time I felt something. Then we started to see more of each other and it materialised – and without even talking about it, it just became a relationship.
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How lovely. How would you describe your marriage?
You have to have an equal understanding of your roles and we bounce well off each other. We’re different personalities but we have a solid understanding of our relationship. I understand he has to go off and do what he does and keep things together while he’s away, but when he comes back he makes up for it with time spent with us. He attributes a lot of his success to the support he has at home, which I know has been a big part of his career. We share the same values and religion, which helps.
What would it mean to him to win?
He would be chuffed to bits if he won, but that being said he doesn’t look at it as a competition, because it’s something out of his control. He didn’t go into the castle with any expectations or wanting to win, but he wanted to give it his best in the challenges and overcome some of his fears and be a good contribution to the camp. He’ll be happy as long as he’s done that. The thought of winning hasn’t even crossed his mind.
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