Mo Farah's former PE teacher has told how the double Olympic champion once threw a strop after getting disqualified from a race as a youngster.

Alan Watkinson, who taught the distance runner at Feltham Community College and Isleworth & Syon School, says he wasn't always the smiling, easygoing character we know today.

"Mo was incredibly competitive," he told getwstlondon. "We had to disqualify his team at his first sports day because he didn't understand the rules and ran across the lanes.

"His initial reaction was to hurl the baton 40 or 50m in anger.

"He had some issues with anger management and getting into fights when he was younger, which was as much to do with not being able to communicate as anything."

Mr Watkinson said his protégé quickly developed into a good loser - not that he had much practice - and was always popular with his peers as he never let his success go to his head.

The former PE teacher now heads up Sports Impact, a not-for-profit enterprise helping inspire children in Hounslow and neighbouring boroughs with a passion for physical activity.

He is due to address teachers at the Education Show 2015 next week about the organisation's success and how they can learn from it.

One of his key messages is that school sport should be about instilling young people with a lifelong love of sport at any level, rather than focusing too much on achievement.

As well as helping tackle the obesity crisis which is putting a huge strain on the NHS, he says, more people playing sport ultimately means more potential Mos.

Narrowing the gap

Too often, he claims, children whose parents aren't sporty get labelled as bad at PE when they start school because they haven't had the same opportunities as others, and it's a label that can stick.

"We want to narrow that gap which exists when children start school so PE's open to all and not just those whose parents are committed to sport," he says. "There are primary school teachers who hated PE as children and are nervous when they come to teach it. But you don't have to be brilliant at sport to teach it.

"It's about giving children the confidence to engage with sport and accept failure while continuing to try and succeed. That's how you create people who enjoy physical activity and stick with it as adults."

Sport Impact works with teachers at primary and secondary schools, helping them ensure children get every opportunity to try different sports.

It also organises sporting events and has teamed up with the Mo Farah Foundation and Brentford FC to create a team of 'Motivators' tasked with getting more people involved in sport.

Most recently, Sport Impact has joined forces with the celebrity chef Tom Kerridge as part of a pilot project to help primary pupils in Hounslow slim down. At present, nearly a quarter (23.9%) of 10-year-olds in the borough are classified as obese.

But sport isn't just about staying fit, Mr Watkinson is keen to point out. It can also help children develop team-working, leadership and other social skills, often rubbing off positively on their academic work.

Modest about role in Mo's success

Although he has known Mo since he was just 11 and persuaded him to concentrate on athletics rather than his first love of football, the former Pride of Britain Teacher of the Year is modest about the part he played in his success.

He insists he left the technical side of things to the experts while helping more with the practicalities, like sorting out train tickets and visas for competitions.

Despite the athlete's recent dalliance with marathon running, Mr Watkinson said he expects his former pupil to stick to the track until at least Rio 2016, where he is likely to target another 5km and 10km double, before switching his focus to longer distances.

Mr Watkinson will give a keynote speech on the opening day of the Education Show 2015, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from March 19-21. He will talk about "mentoring and development of multi-abilities".

Organised by i2i Events Group, the conference is free to attend. To register for a free ticket, visit