Olympic Runner Mo Farah Reveals He Was Trafficked As A Child
Farah had originally shared that he moved to the U.K. with his family as refugees.
by Kui Mwai
July 12, 2022 at 9:15 pm
When speaking about his childhood, British Olympic runner Mohamed “Mo” previously said that he moved to the U.K. with his parents from Somalia as refugees, the BBC reports.
But now, the long-distance runner revealed that he was ripped away from his family and was a victim of child trafficking. As part of the outlet’s documentary about the runner, The Real Mo Farah, Farah shared that when he was around 9 years old, he was taken from his home to stay with some family in Djibouti. He was then approached by a woman he didn’t know and flown to the U.K. Farah was “excited” about the move after being told that he was being sent to live with relatives in Europe.
“I’d never been on a plane before,” he recounted in the BBC documentary.
The runner revealed that he was provided with fake travel documents with the name Mohamed Farah, however, he shared that his birth name is Hussein Abdi Kahin.
Though Farah was excited to go to the U.K., he quickly realized it wouldn’t be the happy experience he’d hoped for. He said the woman who had flown him to the U.K. ripped a piece of paper that had his relatives’ contact information on it in front of him.
Farah said that the woman threatened him, telling him, “If you ever want to see your family again, don’t say anything.”
“Often I would just lock myself in the bathroom and cry,” the runner said, the BBC reports.
He didn’t go to school in the U.K. until he was 12 years old. With the help of a physical education teacher from his school, he was taken away from the woman and fostered by a Somali family.
“I still missed my real family, but from that moment everything got better,” he shared in the documentary.
His new life allowed him to be who he really was, and pursue his true passion — running.
“I felt like a lot of stuff was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt like me. That’s when Mo came out — the real Mo,” he said.
When asked why he decided to discuss his childhood, he said he wanted to “challenge” perceptions of trafficking and slavery.
“I had no idea there were so many people who are going through exactly the same thing that I did,” he said in the documentary.
Farah also talked about recognizing that not all child slaves or trafficked children have been afforded the same opportunities that he has.
“It just shows how lucky I was,” he added.
While many people helped him, Farah said his true saving grace was his athletic talent.
“What really saved me, what made me different, was that I could run,” he said.