The four-time Olympic champion and greatest British distance runner in history, Mo Farah, revealed in a BBC interview that will air as part of a documentary Wednesday evening, that he was brought to the U.K. illegally as a child and forced to work as a domestic servant when he was nine.
Farah told the BBC that his real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin, and that he was taken from his home to stay with family in Djibouti when he was eight, then flown over to the U.K. by a woman he had never met and wasn’t related to. The woman told him his new name was Mohamed Farah and ripped up his documents.
“For years I just kept blocking it out,” Farah said. “But you can only block it out for so long.” The British marathon record holder has previously said that he came to the U.K. from Somalia with his parents as a refugee, but now claims his they have never been to the U.K.
His mother and two brothers live on a farm in Somalia, while his father, Abdi, was killed by stray gunfire when Farah was four.
The 39-year-old distance runner claims he was ordered to do housework and childcare if he wanted to survive and see his family again.
Human trafficking is the transportation of people for exploitative services and purposes.
Farah says that running was a lifeline for him, as it was the only thing he could do to get him away from his living situation. By the age of 14, he began to make a name for himself in the sport.
“What saved me, is what made me different than everyone else,” Farah says. “I could run.”
The documentary The Real Mo Farah is scheduled to air on Wednesday, July 13 on the BBC at 4 p.m. E.T. In the documentary, Farah takes his son, whom he named Hussein, to Somalia to meet his mother Aisha and his two brothers.
There is no set date for when the documentary will air in Canada.