“Most people know me as Mo Farah, but that’s not my name or reality,” he said in clips released Monday.
In previous interviews, Farah had said he came to the UK with his parents as a refugee from Somalia. But in the documentary, set to debut this week, the 39-year-old opened up about his true childhood experiences.
Farah said his family was “torn apart” when he was 4 after his father was killed in a civil war in Somalia. Years later he was separated from his mother and went to live with his family in Djibouti. From there, Farah says, he was taken to Britain at the age of 9 by a woman he didn’t know. His name on the travel visa was Mohamed Farah.
“For years I just blanked it out,” Farah said. “But you can only hide it for so long.”
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Once in the UK, Farah said he was living under duress, doing chores for the woman, who threatened he would never see his family again if he said anything. A few years later, after revealing his true identity to a teacher at his secondary school, Farah was placed in foster care and taken in by another Somali family.
“I still missed my real family, but things got better from that moment,” Farah said.
In 2000 he was granted British citizenship under the name Mohamed Farah. The documentary acknowledges that the UK government could revoke any citizenship obtained through fraud, but a lawyer told Farah the likelihood of that was remote given the nature of his situation.
“I had no idea there were so many people going through exactly the same thing as I am,” Farah said. “It just shows how lucky I was.”
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In the two decades since he was granted citizenship, Farah has represented Britain on the biggest stages as an elite distance runner, winning Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016 and six gold medals at World Championships. In 2017 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
Farah has mainly run long distances since then, setting records at the 2018 Chicago Marathon and the 2020 One Hour. Last week he announced his plans to return to the London Marathon in October.