David Cameron may have tweeted ‘Mo Farah is an Olympic legend and a true British hero. We can all be proud of his extraordinary achievement’, but not even the PM quite understands the significance of what has come to pass in these past two weeks.
For the fact is the man millions have been leaping off their sofas to cheer over the line was born in Somalia and came to London when he was eight years old. His eldest brother, Faisal, stayed behind, and is now a farmer on a smallholding without electricity. They are close. Two brothers, two lives and a journey that changed everything for one of them.
Today Mo, while remaining a devout Muslim, extols his adopted country.
When he was asked last week after his victory in the 10,000 metres if he’d rather be representing Somalia, his simple response spoke volumes. ‘Not at all, mate. This is my country.’
His joyful embrace of Britishness, replicated by other British Olympians of immigrant stock, has aroused the same rapturous feelings of pride in people who, until now, were wary of nationalistic celebrations and expressions — including me.
But these two weeks have been a watershed of true significance. There has been a visceral reaction among black and Asian Britons to what we have seen. For some, it has been perhaps the first time they have really felt a part of this country. For others, the promise of tolerance and integration has come true.
Seeing the mixed-race and black competitors fighting fiercely for their personal bests and for their country has been the moment when history turned a page.
And the evidence is not just up there on the medal podiums.