'It has taken me a long time to come to this', says Mo Farah of child-trafficking past

Sir Mo Farah says his family is his proudest achievement and that he made BBC documentary for them

Sir Mo Farah during the filming of the BBC documentary, 'The Real Mo Farah'. PA
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Sir Mo Farah says his family is his “proudest achievement” and that he created his revelatory BBC documentary about his past “for them”.

The four-time Olympic long-distance champion’s new film, The Real Mo Farah, provides shocking details of how he was taken into the UK illegally under the name of another child.

Before the broadcast, Farah, 39, shared a photo of his wife and children holding Union Jack flags on Instagram.

“I’m so proud have represented Great Britain and to achieved what I have as a GB athlete," he wrote.

“But my proudest achievement will always be being a husband and father to my amazing family.

“I did this documentary for them, so they could understand more about the experiences that led us to becoming the family we are today.

“Not every child will have the easiest start in life but that doesn’t mean they can’t go on to achieve their dreams.

“I hope you’ll all watch later and I can’t wait to hear what you think.”

Farah said he was “relieved” the Home Office would not take action against him after he revealed the information.

In the documentary, broadcast on Wednesday night, Farah tells how he was brought from Somalia illegally, having assumed the name of another child, after his father was killed in the civil war.

He was later helped to obtain UK citizenship by his school PE teacher Alan Watkinson, while still using the name Mohamed Farah.

Speaking to journalist Amol Rajan alongside his wife Tania, Farah said: “It makes me relieved. This is my country.

“If it wasn’t for Alan and the people who supported me throughout my childhood then maybe I wouldn’t even have the courage to do this.

“There’s a lot of people that I owe my life to, particularly my wife who has been very supportive throughout my career, and who gave me the strength to come and talk about it, telling me it’s OK to do this.”

Speaking about other victims of child trafficking, he said: “No child wants to be in that situation. I had the choice made for me, and so young.

“I’m just grateful for every chance I’ve got in Britain to embrace my country, and I’m proud to represent my country the way I did.

“That’s all I could do within my control — I had no control when I was younger over where I went. That decision was made for me and taken away from me.”

Farah said he has no desire to contact the woman who took him over to the UK.

"The production team contacted the lady but she didn’t want to give anything and that’s all I know. No, I’m not in touch with her and don’t want to.”

He described the wave of support after his announcement as “incredible”.

“It was always my story," Farah said. "I wasn’t even comfortable enough to talk about it with my family. I couldn’t talk about it publicly.

“It has taken me a long time to come to this, but I’m glad I’ve made this documentary to show people the reality of what really happened to me as a child.”

His wife Tania said she had experienced a “whole range of emotions” after hearing about his true past.

“My first reaction was heartbreak and sadness for him," she said. "I just immediately pictured 9-year-old Mo and being so helpless and vulnerable.

“Then equally I felt angry at the people that did that to him, that put him through that.”

She said her husband was now “finally giving himself permission to feel those feelings of hurt and pain”, and she described the documentary as a “form of therapy”.

The Metropolitan Police has said it is “assessing” Farah’s allegations that he was trafficked into the UK as a child and forced to work as a domestic servant.

“We are aware of reports in the media concerning Sir Mo Farah," the force said. “No reports have been made to the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] at this time.

“Specialist officers are currently assessing the available information.”

Sports presenter Gary Lineker was among those praising Farah before the documentary was aired.

“Incredible story. Will definitely be watching tonight,” Lineker tweeted.

The Real Mo Farah aired at 9pm on BBC One on Wednesday and is available on iPlayer.

Updated: July 14, 2022, 7:54 AM
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