Meet Mo Farah, a British Muslim sporting inspiration—delve into the story behind his extraordinary journey to Olympic gold and his ongoing legacy on and off the track.

Considered one of the greatest runners of all time, Mo Farah’s story is a testament to resilience, determination, and the pursuit of excellence. Born Hussein Abdi Kahin in Somalia on 23 March 1983, his early years were marked by tragedy as he lost his father in the Isaaq Genocide when he was just four years old. This heartbreaking event led to his separation from his mother, and he spent formative years in the war-torn city of Mogadishu.

At the age of nine, Mo Farah embarked on an arduous journey to the United Kingdom via Djibouti. Renamed Mohammed Farah, he was thrust into a challenging life as a domestic servant, flown to the UK by a woman he had never met. These early experiences, though difficult, laid the foundation for the indomitable spirit that would define his future. Obtaining British citizenship in July 2000 under the name Mohamed Farah, he faced initial challenges upon arrival. For the first few years, he was not allowed to attend school, but at the age of 11 or 12, he began his education in Year 7. Mo Farah’s journey in athletics began when he joined the Borough of Hounslow Athletics Club in west London. Representing Hounslow at cross-country in the 1994 London Youth Games, he showcased his talent from a young age.

In 1996, at the age of 13, Mo Farah entered the English schools cross-country championships, finishing an impressive ninth. The following year marked the beginning of his dominance, winning the first of five English school titles. Recognising his immense potential, athletics philanthropist Eddie Kulukundis played a pivotal role in completing Farah’s naturalisation as a British citizen, enabling him to compete in international competitions without visa issues.

Mo Farah’s athletic prowess truly blossomed on the track. His ten global championship gold medals, comprising four Olympic and six World titles, make him the most successful male track distance runner in history. He stands as the most successful British track athlete in the modern Olympic Games, etching his name in the annals of sporting greatness. Among his many historic achievements are four Olympic gold medals (2012, 2016) in the 5,000m and 10,000m events, a feat known as the “double-double.” This unparalleled accomplishment in both disciplines showcased his endurance, tactical brilliance, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. Beyond the Olympics, Mo Farah secured multiple World Championship titles, solidifying his status as one of the greatest long-distance runners of all time.

Off the track, Mo Farah’s commitment to community welfare is evident through the Mo Farah Foundation, established in 2011. The foundation focuses on providing aid and support to children affected by poverty in East Africa. Mo also actively supports initiatives like the Muslim Writers Awards, exemplifying his dedication to making a positive impact both on and off the track.

As a four-time Olympic gold medalist and the holder of multiple world records, Mo Farah’s athletic legacy is etched in history. However, his influence extends beyond the medals, as he stands as a role model and cultural icon who has significantly enriched the heritage of British Muslims.

Whether on the track or in the hearts of those he has inspired, Mo Farah’s impact endures as a source of inspiration for generations to come.

This post is part of our Muslim Heritage series, you can read about the remarkable legacies of inspiring Muslim figures and institutions who have etched their impact on history here.