The Spaniard who lost his European half-marathon record to Mo Farah on Sunday has said that what Farah had broken “is the record for Somalia”.
Fabian Roncero, who held the European record for 13.1 miles before Farah broke it by 20 seconds in winning the Lisbon half-marathon in 59min 32sec, also claimed none of Farah’s European records from the 1500m to the half-marathon should be considered valid.
“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 Fermín Cacho, the 5,000m Dieter Baumann and 10,000m António Pinto,” Roncero said.
“For me, an athlete who was born in Kenya is Kenyan and one born in Somalia is Somali forever, and that is the opinion of the people with whom I speak,” he said. “Besides, I am convinced that 95% of athletes still feel nationalised by their country of origin.”
Farah, the double Olympic and world 5,000m and 10,000m champion, was born in Somalia but moved to Britain aged eight to join his father, who was born in Britain. Only last month he admitted his anger at remarks allegedly made by his team-mate Andy Vernon at the European Championships in Zurich doubting his nationality and said “I love competing for my country”.
The 44-year-old Roncero, who trains young athletes in Cantabria in Spain, stressed he thought Farah was a great athlete and African runners were superior to European distance runners. However he maintains his European record should stand.
“I have nothing against Africans,” he told the Spanish newspaper Marca. “On the contrary, I consider them superior to European runners but with respect to the records, I say what I feel and I will never lie. Farah is a great athlete but for me the records in Europe are what make European athletes.”
This article was written by Sean Ingle, for theguardian.com on Monday 23rd March 2015 17.30 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010