Sir Mo Farah’s wife: Living with hurt of child trafficking secret ‘not natural’

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Sir Mo Farah with wife Tania after he was knighted in 2017  (PA Wire)
Sir Mo Farah with wife Tania after he was knighted in 2017 (PA Wire)

The emotional wife of Sir Mo Farah says living with his child trafficking secret was “not natural” as Scotland Yard confirmed it was assessing allegations made by the four-time Olympic gold medallist.

Sir Mo, 39, revealed in a documentary how he was illegally smuggled into Britain from Djibouti aged nine and forced into domestic servitude.

Born Hussein Abdi Kahin, he assumed the name of another child after his father was killed in the civil war.

The Metropolitan Police said specialist officers were assessing information in BBC One’s The Real Mo Farah.

It emerged journalists approached one of his two alleged traffickers, a woman living in west London.

Sir Mo’s wife Tania Farah, 37, “wore him down” with questioning after realising before their 2010 wedding that there were missing pieces to his story.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme having known him for 25 years since they met at college and raising four children, her first reaction was “heartbreak and sadness”.

Sir Mo Farah holding up a picture of himself as a child during the filming of the BBC documentary (PA)
Sir Mo Farah holding up a picture of himself as a child during the filming of the BBC documentary (PA)

Mrs Farah added: “I just immediately pictured nine-year-old Mo being so helpless and vulnerable. And equally I feel angry at the people that did that to him and put him through that. I don’t know how anyone can live with themselves treating a child that way.

“I experienced a lot of emotions but now that Mo has built up the courage to understand it better, I feel happy for Mo to be able to feel something. I’ve known Mo for 25 years plus. He’s always been very guarded with emotions – he doesn’t show them. He’s been able to just bury every emotion possible and just show happiness. It’s not natural. It’s going to be a good thing [getting it out there], a form of therapy.”

Asked how she felt watching him become a global icon while harbouring a secret they couldn’t talk about, Mrs Farah said: “All I could do was support Mo through his journey – his athletics career being the highlight and helping him in any way I could. If that meant just not talking about his childhood and letting him talk about it when he was ready, then that’s what we do.

“I knew he was always carrying that hurt but wasn’t ready to talk about it. I think it was that hurt and pain that gave him that edge, that driving force to achieve great things. Without it, he probably wouldn’t be who he is.”

Sir Mo said he feels “sadness and trauma” over his childhood, adding: “It’s hard because my emotions are just not there because you’ve learnt to block emotions. Now by doing this documentary, unlocking your emotions, it’s difficult. Again I’ve had the right people in my life, my family, my wife who’s been supporting me throughout.”

The athlete said he was forced to cook, clean and change nappies while working as a family’s domestic servant in Hounslow, west London.

“I wasn’t allowed to play with any other kids, I wasn’t allowed to be myself,” he told Today.

“All I ever wanted as a kid was to have my parents, or to have people that will care for you.”

The Real Mo Farah filming (BBC/PA)
The Real Mo Farah filming (BBC/PA)

Asked what happened to the female trafficker, Sir Mo said on Wednesday: “The production team contacted the lady but she didn’t want to give anything and that’s all I know.

“I’m not in touch with her and I don’t want to be.”

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

The Home Office has the power to legally strip individuals of their British citizenship if it is found to have been obtained illegally. But it has no plans to take action against him.

Number 10 said of the Olympic champion: “He is a sporting hero, he is an inspiration to people across the country.

Mo Farah - In pictures

“It is a shocking reminder of the horrors that people face when they are trafficked. And we must continue to clamp down on these criminals who take advantage of vulnerable people.”

Scotland Yard said in a statement: “We are aware of reports in the media concerning Sir Mo Farah.

“No reports have been made to the MPS (the Metropolitan Police Service) at this time.

“Specialist officers are currently assessing the available information.”

Figures from the world of politics have praised Sir Mo as “truly inspirational” and a “great Briton”.

The Real Mo Farah will air at 9pm on BBC One on Wednesday.

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