LONDON (AP) — Olympic great Mo Farah — the winner of four gold medals and one of Britain’s greatest and best-loved athletes — has been carrying a secret burden all these years: He was illegally brought to the U.K. as a youth and forced to care for other children before he escaped a life of servitude through running.
In a new documentary, Farah says his real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin and that he was from taken from the East African nation of Djibouti when he was about 8 or 9. He says a woman he didn’t know brought him to Britain using fake travel documents that included his picture alongside the name Mohammed Farah.
The revelations come as Britain struggles to deal with a surge of people fleeing conflict and hunger in Africa, the Middle East and Asia on flimsy boats organized by human traffickers who assist the desperate to cross the English Channel. Criminal gangs are also smuggling people into the country and forcing them into sex work, criminal activities and unpaid labor.
In the documentary, produced by the BBC and Red Bull Studios, Farah said he thought he was going to Europe to live with relatives and had piece of paper with the contact details.
“The lady took it off me and right in front of me ripped them up and put it in the bin,” Farah said in the film, to be broadcast Wednesday. “And at that moment I knew I was in trouble.”