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“The truth is I’m not who you think I am," the 39-year-old Farah told the BBC in a documentary called “The Real Mo Farah.”
Farah, who became the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals, said his children have motivated him to be truthful about his past.
“The real story is I was born in Somaliland, north of Somalia, as Hussein Abdi Kahin," he told the BBC. "Despite what I’ve said in the past, my parents never lived in the U.K.
"When I was 4 my dad was killed in the civil war, you know as a family we were torn apart. I was separated from my mother, and I was brought into the U.K. illegally under the name of another child called Mohamed Farah.”
During the documentary, Farah said he thought he was going to Europe to live with relatives and recalled going through a British passport check under the guise of Mohamed at the age of 9 after traveling with a woman he didn't previously know.
“I had all the contact details for my relative and once we got to her house, the lady took it off me and right in front of me ripped them up and put it in the bin and at that moment I knew I was in trouble," he said.
The athlete traveled back to his childhood home in west London, recalling “not great memories” where he was not treated as part of the family.
Farah eventually told teacher Alan Watkinson the truth and moved to live with his friend’s mother who took care of him and he ended up staying for seven years.
It was Watkinson who applied for Farah’s British citizenship which he described as a “long process." Farah was recognized as a British citizen in 2000.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.