Miss Gemmill! Mo wants to be an Olympic champion, so I told him to speak to you."
This is a story about the Olympics, the hope for a legacy and a boy named Mo. The opening words to the tale come from a pupil at St Roch's in Royston. They were addressed to Clare Gemmill, who teaches English, and who takes a running club at the school. Her latest recruit is an asylum seeker from Somalia, who wants to run for gold and happens to be called Mo. All this, of course, has strong echoes of Mo Farah who won both the 5000 and 10,000 metres finals at the London Olympics.
Mohamed Dayib Jama, the 17-year-old sitting in a Glasgow classroom, is far removed from the exploits, fame and glory of the runner who achieved that golden double but he shares much of his background and quietly testifies to the effect the Olympics can have on the aspiring athlete.
"I want to be a runner," he says. "When I came to Glasgow I wanted to be involved in sport, as I ran and swam in Somalia and then Kenya. That is why my friend went to Miss Gemmill. She has a running group and I wanted to join in."
Gemmill, who has more than 30 pupils involved in levels ranging from the gentle jogger to the seriously competitive, decided to put Mo through his paces.
"I took him to a 7k run and told him to stick with me in the early stages and then, if he felt strong, to go for it in the final stages," says the teacher, who is a coach at Springburn Harriers.
Mo replied: "I think I am going to do something special tonight." He then raced off, leaving the teacher to believe she would catch up with her fatigued pupil later in the race. She did not.
"I wondered where he had gone to and thought he may just have given up and gone home," says Gemmill. "But I was told he had finished fourth out of 100 people, mostly club runners."
Indeed, the youngster had been in the lead for much of the race before being overtaken in the last stretch. "He was wearing plimsolls in the mud and kept slipping and they kept coming off," says his teacher.
She could see her pupil had potential and that opinion was bolstered in Mo's next race when he finished ninth after mistaking the length of the race and sprinting too early. "He was gutted he did not win," says Gemmill.
Mo speaks with a certainty about his dedication to the pursuit of Olympic glory but it would be absurd to use his resemblance in circumstance to Farah to predict a similarly glorious ending. "There is a lot of rubbish written about refugee families getting it easy," says John Mackay, a teacher in Pollok and a coach with Shettleston Harriers. "They can have a life on the margins and be faced with challenges we can only guess at."
Mackay is determined to help Mohamed and his friend, Guilit Kahilu, an asylum seeker from the Congo, who have both now joined the Harriers. It is a club with a dignified history of helping immigrant runners.
The youths have joined the 100 young runners training at Crownpoint in the East End of Glasgow, a total that has swollen by 40 since the Olympics. The club, helped by Scottish Athletics and Glasgow City Council, has the resources to help the newcomers to running. "The first thing we will do for Mohamed and Guilit is to supply them with running shoes and other gear," says Mackay. "Our club has a great history and we make sure that nobody is disadvantaged."
The post-Olympic rush has put strains on the Harriers but Mackay and his fellow coaches are coping with the higher numbers and are enthused by the challenge.
"I have a 20-year association with this club and I look on my involvement in coaching now as a kind of payback for everything I have received over the years," says Mackay. "There is an almost moral obligation to give something back."
He admits there is a thrill in seeing a young athlete develop and improve and knows the process is more than about making someone run faster for longer. "We are keen to develop them as athletes but they must also develop as a human being. The club is all about values and aspirations," he says.
"There is a discipline to training, the desire will be tested, and every athlete knows that feeling when you have to have that ability to get up and get on with it after a disappointment. You have to be resilient to keep coming back, to keep trying to improve."
The problems facing Mo and his fellow refugees from war and strife can only be guessed at by those who enjoy a stability of lifestyle. But Mackay believes there are lessons that can be learned by simply reflecting on the trials of others. "Certainly, some of the youngsters at the club can look at those asylum-seekers and learn from their attitude and learn that they have advantages and opportunities that are not open to everyone."
This is a theme pursued by Gemmill at St Roch's. Her experience of running in school was uniformly positive. "I would compete for the school but I was never the first choice," she says of her experience at Turnbull High in Bishopbriggs. "But I loved it because it was about setting your own goals which I feel is a good lesson in life. It is about following your own path."
Formerly a nurse, she has taken this belief into teaching. "I was here as a student teacher in 2009 and started a running club then," she says of her initial experience at St Roch's. "We have a strong rugby club, basketball team and football team. Some of the pupils dip into the running to cross train with other sport but others just because it is something they can do. Most people can run and the children can build up a sense of progression and achievement."
The lesson from the teachings of Gemmill and Mackay is simple. The task of making Mo an Olympic champion may be beyond them. They are determined, however, to help make him a man.