New York Daily News: By Kate Feldman – At just 9-years-old, Mo Farah, who would go on to become first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals, was handed fake travel documents, shuttled onto a plane by a stranger, flown from his home in Djibouti to England and forced to work as a domestic servant.
The stunning revelations, made in the trailer for a BBC documentary premiering Wednesday, shake up the story of one of the world’s greatest athletes, who previously said he and his parents had moved to Britain as refugees.
Instead, the 39-year-old runner said, he was born Hussein Abdi Kahin and his parents never lived in the UK with him; his father was shot and killed in the civil war in Somalia when he was 4.
“I wasn’t treated as part of the family,” Farah said in a teaser. “I was always that kid who did everything. More like someone who works for you. ‘This is your space, this is our space.’ If I wanted food in my mouth, my job was to look after those kids. Shower them, cook for them, clean for them.”
The woman who brought him over threatened him if he didn’t work, he said, promising he’d never see his family again.
“Often I would just lock myself in the bathroom and cry,” he said. “But nobody’s there to help, so after a while I just learned not to have that emotion.”
Farah was eventually allowed to go to school when he turned 12, according to the BBC. He was “unkempt and uncared for,” a former tutor said, speaking very little English and “emotionally and culturally alienated.”
Eventually, he found a bond with his gym teacher and told him the truth. The teacher, Alan Watkinson, contacted child services and got Farah placed with another Somali family.
“I still missed my real family, but from that moment everything got better,” Farah said.
“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.”
In July 2000, Farah was granted British citizenship, technically obtained fraudulently. The UK Home Office said Monday that there are no plans to take action over the illegal documents.
Around that time, a woman tracked Farah down at a restaurant and handed him a tape with a phone number. On the other end of the line was his mother, Aisha.
“When I heard him, I felt like throwing the phone on the floor and being transported to him from all the joy I felt,” she said in the documentary. “The excitement and joy of getting a response from him made me forget everything that happened.”
During the war, Aisha said, she sent him to his uncle in Djibouti for safety, but lost contact with him after that.
In the documentary, Farah brings his son, named Hussein after his real name, back home.
“I had no idea there was so many people who are going through exactly the same thing that I did. It just shows how lucky I was,” he said, according to the BBC.
“What really saved me, what made me different, was that I could run.”
Top Feature Photo: Mo Farah -Adam Davy/Getty images