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Kenya will always have a big place in my heart – Mo Farah

Former Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah says he will forever remain indebted to Kenya for his decorated career in athletics.

The 41-year-old retired Somali-British distance runner said that were it not for Kenyan athletes, who encouraged him to come and train with them in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet, he would have made it in the sport.

“Kenya will always have a big place in my heart because, without the Kenyan athletes, who saw my talents and encouraged me to come to Kenya and train with them, and show me what I was capable of, I would have never achieved what I have,” said the four-time Olympic gold medallist.

“That is why it was so important for me to come here with IOM (International Organisation for Migration) as a Global Goodwill Ambassador and show what we can do with the power of sports, how we can change many, many things and break down many barriers,” added the six-time world champion.

He spoke on April 22, at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, during a meeting that brought together various stakeholders, including a section of Kenyan athletes.

Farah has since Saturday, April 20, been in Kenya for a three-day visit as the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

It was his first visit in that capacity since his appointment on November 28 last year. During his active running days, Farah frequented Iten for high-altitude training.

Farah, who was born Hussein Abdi Kahin, is a survivor of human trafficking. In July 2023, he shocked the world when he revealed to a BBC documentary that he was trafficked as a child to Britain. “If it was not for sports, I wouldn’t be here today,” said the former Olympic champion.

“Sports has saved me. My teacher saw how neglected I was and took me to the running field. I started to enjoy running because that was the only place I could let my feelings out and, again there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I never gave up, so just keep living and working hard.”

He was appointed the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2013 and was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to athletics.

Considered among the most long-distance athletes of all time, Farah is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in both the 5,000 m and 10,000 m.

He is the second athlete, after Lasse Virén, to win both the 5,000 m and 10,000 m titles at successive Olympic Games.

He also completed the ‘distance double’ at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships in Athletics and was the first man to defend both distance titles in both major global competitions; a feat described as the ‘quadruple-double’.

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