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Fellow Olympian hails Sir Mo Farah’s steely determination to overcome adversity

Sir Brendan Foster said he had been left ‘absolutely staggered’ by the revelations that Sir Mo was brought into the UK illegally and mistreated.

Sir Brendan Foster hailed Sir Mo Farah's steely determination throughout his life and for overcoming adversity (Jane Barlow/PA)
Sir Brendan Foster hailed Sir Mo Farah's steely determination throughout his life and for overcoming adversity (Jane Barlow/PA)

Sir Mo Farah’s life story is an “amazing” one of “someone overcoming adversity”, a fellow Olympian and friend has said.

The success achieved by Sir Mo after being brought to the UK illegally under the name of another child has “got to be a warming story” but with a thread of sadness, former athlete Sir Brendan Foster said.

Sir Brendan hailed Sir Mo for having shown a “steely determination” in his life, saying he had been “absolutely staggered”  by the news which is revealed in a BBC documentary this week.

Sir Brendan Foster hailed Sir Mo Farah's
Sir Brendan Foster hailed Sir Mo Farah’s ‘steely determination’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

Sir Brendan told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “I’m absolutely staggered really because I thought I knew the Mo Farah story and I thought I knew Mo Farah really well. I’ve known him for more than 20 years since he was a young kid.”

He said what Sir Mo has been through is “a Hollywood movie”.

He added: “You just have to feel so sorry for the man. And then when you think about it, the Mo Farah story is a fantastic story itself. But then when you see, when you realise what was behind the story, it’s a Hollywood movie now.

“And you don’t know whether it’s a sad Hollywood movie, or it’s a happy Hollywood movie. But it’s a great story and he’s a great man and you know, he hasn’t lied to anybody but imagine having to bury that, live with that story that he’s going to tell us probably when we watch it on TV. But it’s an amazing, successful story of someone overcoming adversity.”

Asked if he had ever seen any hint of the pain that was behind Sir Mo’s well-known grins, he said: “No, I just saw the grins and the silly behaviour and the way he laughed so easily.

“But when you think about it, if you think about the darkness that was in there, and behind this story, it is amazing that he came out – first of all with the light-hearted personality that he has, and then secondly, somewhere in there, the steely determination.

“This is a great story. It’s a great story and it’s got to be a warming story but it’s got that thread of sort of sadness and (I) feel for Mo, I mean, what must he have suffered in those early years?”

In the documentary Sir Mo said he was born Hussein Abdi Kahin in Somaliland, north of Somalia, and that his father was killed in the civil war when he was four – something he said had torn his family apart.

He said he was separated from his mother and brought into the UK illegally under the name of another child called Mohamed Farah.

He thought he was going to Europe to live with relatives but recalled “not great memories” of his childhood in Hounslow where he was not treated as part of the family.

Instead, he said he was made to look after children in the house “shower them, cook for them, clean for them” and told by a woman: “If you ever want to see your family again, don’t say anything. If you say anything, they will take you away.”

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