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Olympic runner Mo Farah reveals he was trafficked to U.K. as a child

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Great Britain's Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in long-distance running, has revealed to the BBC he was trafficked to the U.K. as a child. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
Great Britain's Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in long-distance running, has revealed to the BBC he was trafficked to the U.K. as a child. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

July 12 (UPI) -- Olympic champion distance runner Mo Farah has revealed he was trafficked to the United Kingdom as a child under a different name.

The British runner, who has won four Olympic gold medals, told the BBC he was brought to the U.K. from Somalia when he was 8 or 9 years old and forced into domestic servitude for a London family.

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"Most people know me as Mo Farah," he told the BBC. "But that's not my name or it's not the reality. The real story is I was born in Somaliland, north of Somalia as Hussein Abdi Kahin."

In the past, Farah had said he left Somalia for the U.K. with his parents as a refugee. But he told the BBC, in a documentary to air Wednesday, that his parents and two brothers never were with him.

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The long-distance runner said he was taken to stay with a family in Djibouti and then flown over to the UK by a woman he had never met. Farah said he was told he would live with relatives in Europe, something he said he was "excited" about. "I'd never been on a plane before," he said.

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Farah said the woman had fake travel documents with his photo on them and his new name "Mohamed Farah." When he arrived in London, she took his paperwork that contained his relatives' contact information.

"Right in front of me, she ripped it up and put it in the bin. At that moment, I knew I was in trouble," he said.

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Farah, now 39, told the BBC the woman took him to her London home where he was made to do housework and childcare "if I wanted food in my mouth." Farah said he was also told "if you ever want to see your family again, don't say anything."

Farah said he was allowed to attend school when he was 12 years old where he developed a love for sports and running.

"What really saved me, what made me different, was that I could run," he said.

Farah competed for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics in London, where he won two gold medals for the 5,000 and 10,000 meters and repeated with another two golds in the same events in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro.

The Olympic champion, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and granted British citizenship in 2000, is unlikely to lose his nationality even though it was obtained through fraud.

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"In your case, you were obliged as a very small child yourself to look after small children and to be a domestic servant," barrister Allan Briddock told Farah.

"And then you told the relevant authorities 'this is not my name'. All of those combine to lessen the risk that the Home Office will take away your nationality."

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