Olympic long-distance runner Sir Mo Farah said he was taken to the UK from Somaliland as a child.
Sir Mo, Britain’s most successful track and field athlete, has made the revelation in a new BBC and Red Bull Studios documentary.
He previously said he came to the UK as a refugee from Somalia with his parents, but has now told the BBC he was born Hussein Abdi Kahin in Somaliland, a breakaway region in northern Somalia not internationally recognized as independent.
“Most people know me as Mo Farah, but that’s not my name… that’s not true,” he said.
“Despite what I have said in the past, my parents never lived in the UK.”
Who is Sir Mo Farah?
Sir Mo is Britain’s most successful track and field athlete, undefeated in the 5000m and 10000m major events between 2012 and 2016.
Sir Mo won two golds at the 2012 London Olympics.
He has won four Olympic titles and six world titles, including back-to-back doubles at the 2012 and 2016 Games and the 2013 and 2015 World Championships.
In a clip from the documentary, Sir Mo said that he was four years old when his father was killed in the civil war, causing the family to “separate”.
“I was separated from my mother and smuggled into the UK under the name of another child named Mohamed Farah,” he said.
Sir Mohamed Farah grew up to become a star athlete after being smuggled into the United Kingdom as a child. Credit: Getty
In the documentary, Sir Mo said that when he was nine years old, he was brought to the UK by a woman he had never met or was related to.
I had no idea there were so many people going through the same thing as me.
After arriving in the United Kingdom, the BBC reported that he had to do housework and take care of children “if I wanted to eat in my mouth”.
He says the woman told him, “If you ever want to see your family again, don’t say anything.”
He eventually entered school and later, with the help of a teacher, applied for British citizenship. In 2000, he was recognized as a British citizen.
“What really saved me… was that I could run”
“I know that I took someone else’s place, and I wonder what Mohamed is doing now?”
Sir Mo told the BBC he wanted to tell his story to challenge public perceptions of human trafficking and slavery.
“I had no idea there were so many people going through the same thing as me. It just shows how lucky I am,” he said.
“What really saved me, what made me different, was that I could run.”
Sir Mo, a father of four, said his children also encouraged him to share his past.
“Family means everything to me and, you know, as a parent, you always teach your kids to be honest, but I feel like I always had this personal thing where I could never be myself and tell what really happened. “, – he said.
“That’s the main reason I’m telling my story because I want to feel normal and… not feel like you’re holding on to something.”
The documentary ends with Farah talking to the real Mohamed Farah, adding that he will continue to go by the name he was given when he entered the UK.