Mo Farah says he was taken to UK using another child’s name

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Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah says he was illegally brought to the U.K. as a young boy 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. The film that tells the story of his being trafficked, was produced by the BBC and Red Bull Studios, and the BBC is scheduled to broadcast it Wednesday.

The athlete says he was 8 or 9 years old when a woman he didn’t know brought him to Britain using fake travel documents that included his picture alongside the name Mohammed Farah, the BBC reported.

The woman took him to an apartment in west London where he was forced to care for her children, Farah said. He wasn’t allowed to go to school until he was 12.

“I wasn’t treated as part of the family…,” Farah says in the documentary. “If I wanted food in my mouth, my job was to look after those kids — shower them, cook for them, clean for them.”

Farah, who represented Britain at three Olympic Games, won gold medals in the 5000m and 10,000m at both the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Games.

He previously said he had moved to Britain with his parents as a refugee from Somalia.

But in the documentary, he says his parents never were in the U.K. His father was killed by stray gunfire during unrest in Somalia when Farah was 4 years old, according to the film. His mother and two brothers live on the family farm in Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia that is not internationally recognized.

Farah says his fortunes changed when he was finally allowed to attend school. A teacher who was interviewed for the documentary recalled a 12-year-old boy who appeared “unkempt and uncared for,” was “emotionally and culturally alienated” and spoke little English.

But he began to blossom on the track and eventually told his story to a physical education instructor. The teacher contacted local officials, who arranged for a Somali family to take him in as a foster child.

“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.”

Farah said he had feared he would be deported if he spoke about his childhood experiences. He decided to tell his story to publicize and challenge people’s perceptions of human trafficking, he said.

“I had no idea there was so many people who are going through exactly the same thing that I did,” he said. “It just shows how lucky I was.”

Farah was granted U.K. citizenship in 2000. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017.

An immigration lawyer told the program that there was little risk of the government revoking Farah’s citizenship because he was trafficked as a child. The U.K.’s Home Office did not immediately respond to comment from The Associated Press.

Home Office guidance makes clear that the agency assumes a child is not complicit in gaining citizenship by deception, stating: “If the person was a child at the time the fraud, false representation or concealment of material fact was perpetrated, the caseworker should assume that they were not complicit in any deception by their parent or guardian.”

If Farah thought the country would turn against him after his revelations, he would be mistaken. Politicians, sports figures and celebrities rushed to offer their support; London Mayor Sadiq Khan praising his courage in coming forward.

“Everything Sir Mo has survived proves he’s not only one of our greatest Olympians but a truly great Briton,’’ Khan said on Twitter “@Mo Farah thank you for sharing your story & shining a spotlight on these awful crimes. We must build a future where these tragic events are never repeated.”

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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