Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah has revealed he was illegally brought to the UK from Djibouti under the name of another child.
“The truth is I’m not who you think I am,” Farah, 39, told the BBC in a documentary called The Real Mo Farah.
Farah, who became the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals, said his children motivated him to be honest about his past.
“The real story is that I was born Hussein Abdi Kahin in Somaliland, north of Somalia,” he told the BBC. “Despite what I have said in the past, my parents have never lived in the UK
“When I was four years old my father was killed in the civil war, you know we were torn apart as a family. I was separated from my mother and brought to the UK illegally under the name of another child named Mohamed Farah.”
During the documentary, Farah said he thought he was going to Europe to live with relatives and recalled going through British passport control at the age of nine under the guise of Mohamed after traveling with a woman that he did not know before.
“I had all my relatives’ contact details and when we got to her house the lady took it from me and ripped it open right in front of me and put it in the bin and at that moment I knew I was in trouble,” he said .
Traveling back to his parents’ home in west London, the athlete recalled “not great memories” of not being treated as part of the family.
Farah eventually told the truth to teacher Alan Watkinson and moved in with his friend’s mother who took care of him and he ended up staying for seven years.
It was Watkinson who applied for Farah’s British citizenship in what he described as a “long process”. Farah was granted British citizenship in 2000.