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Legendary Gold Medal Runner Mo Farah Says He Was Trafficked to UK as a Child

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2022

Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah revealed he was the victim of human trafficking as a child.

"For years I just kept blocking it out," he told the BBC's Ashitha Nagesh ahead of the airing of a documentary featuring Farah on Wednesday. "But you can only block it out for so long."

Farah said he was taken from his family's home in Somaliland to stay with another family in Djibouti. He was then flown to the United Kingdom when he was around eight or nine with a woman he didn't know. Born Hussein Abdi Kahin, he also had his name changed.

Farah was told by the woman he had relatives in Europe. She also supplied him with fake travel documents that identified him as "Mohamed Farah."

Farah said the woman ripped up a piece of paper that had contact information for relatives back home and threw it in the trash.

The 39-year-old told the BBC he was instructed to do work around the house and perform child care "if I wanted food in my mouth." The woman also threatened him with preventing him from ever seeing his family again if he spoke out about the situation.

Farah eventually spoke to his physical education teacher at Feltham Community College. The teacher reached out to social services, who helped move Farah to another family.

"I felt like a lot of stuff was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt like me," he said. "That's when Mo came out—the real Mo."

Farah went on to become one of the most decorated British athletes ever.

He was the gold medalist in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and he successfully defended his titles in both events four years later in Rio de Janeiro. Farah also has six gold medals from the World Athletics Championships, the most recent of which came on home soil in London in 2017.

Farah was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2013 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in November 2017.

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