Team GB Olympics hero Mo Farah held in US terror bungle.
Double-gold medal winner detained in Oregon
MO Farah was quizzed by US customs on suspicion of being a terrorist — even though he had his two Olympic gold medals in his suitcase.
The Team GB hero, one of the world’s most famous athletes, was hauled off for questioning after border guards saw he was born in Somalia.
Mo, 29, said: “I couldn’t believe it. Because of my Somali origin I get detained every time I come through US Customs. This time I even got my medals out to show who I am, but they wouldn’t have it.”
Mo, who came to Britain with his English-born dad as a child, was pulled aside as he headed to spend Christmas with his family in Portland, Oregon.
He moved there last year to work with legendary trainer Alberto Salazar at Nike’s HQ.
Mo — who won the 10,000metres and 5,000metres at London 2012 — told yesterday how he previously ran into trouble when he tried to get a residency permit to live in Portland.
He said: “When we tried to get a residency visa, Nike obviously signed it all off and we thought it was going to be straightforward.
“We were in Portland on a tourist visa so had to leave and re-enter the country as a resident.
“So we flew to Toronto to stay for a few days, then come back in.
“But when we were there we got a letter telling us we’re under investigation as a terrorist threat and we would have to stay away for 90 days.
“We had only packed four days’ worth of clothes. We didn’t know what to do.”
In desperation Mo got in touch with coach Salazar.
He added: “As luck would have it Alberto has a friend who works for the FBI. This guy happens to be a massive running fan, knew exactly who I was and got it sorted then and there.
“God knows what would have happened if he didn’t. We’d probably still be in Toronto.”
I’m so honoured at golds and a CBE… but I didn’t get in the BBC’s top three
By NICK FRANCIS
OLYMPIC hero Mo Farah yesterday gave one of his trademark grins as he told of his joy at getting a CBE and said: “I’m blown away, so honoured.”
The New Year Honours award topped off a fantastic year for 29-year-old Mo after his double gold medals at 10,000metres and 5,000metres during London 2012.
He said: “For me 2012 is done and it’s time to look ahead. But I’ll never forget what everyone in Team GB achieved.”
His CBE comes after his Olympic heroics and popularity with the public somehow failed to land him a spot in the top three of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
But Mo is typically philosophical about the disappointment — and typically generous in his praise of the SPOTY award’s winner, cycling superstar Bradley Wiggins.
He said: “I suppose it is a difficult one to get my head around but it doesn’t upset me.
“Last year I came third at Sports Personality of the Year and I hadn’t won double Olympic gold.
“But this year I had achieved the most I possibly could and didn’t even get third again, let alone a higher spot.
“I mean, there’s nothing more I could have done.
“But it’s because each and every person in the line-up deserved to win, it was such a strong year.
“And Bradley Wiggins is a phenomenal athlete.”
Mo’s SPOTY omission is even more surprising because of the high regard the British public clearly holds him in.
His 5,000metre win that clinched his second gold of the games was voted No1 in BBC3’s chart of the Olympics Most Amazing Moments.
Mo told how one woman even wrote to him apologising over the SPOTY fiasco.
He said: “Actually, I was sent a Christmas card the other day from a lady telling me she was sorry she hadn’t voted for me.
“She said it was because she had assumed I would win anyway. It was a lovely card to get. To be honest, any one of the contenders could have won on the night.”
Mo may be delighted with his CBE — but many fans believe he should have got a knighthood like Wiggins and veteran Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie.
The Sun revealed yesterday ex-Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said it was a bad mistake not to have made Mo a Sir.
But the runner is more concerned with the future — and getting even better.
He said: “I wanted to bring distance running back to Britain, it’s real home. Now I want to build on that success and go get more.
“There are faster times in me, I can get better, I reckon I’ve got a good four to five more years of competition.
“I want to do the London marathon, although that will probably be in 2014 now.”
Mo, wife Tania, their new twins Aisha and Amani and daughter Rhianna, seven, moved to America last year so he could work with legendary trainer Alberto Salazar.
The family now lives in Portland, Oregon, near Nike’s training centre.
This Christmas has been the first Mo has been able to spend with his family in four years.
And as he relaxed on his sofa after a training run, Mo cradled the four-month-old twins — who lay sleeping with his Olympic medals draped around their necks.
He dedicated his record-breaking performance to his daughters, who were born two weeks after his second gold medal triumph.
And as a tribute, on the rim of each medal he has engraved their names — Aisha and Amani.
Mo said: “It’s been a big year. But the best way to end it is with the ones I love.
“It’s the twins’ first Christmas ever and I’ve been away training for the last four years so this is really special.”
Mo was there at the birth of the twins in London and cut the umbilical cord himself.
He said he is often asked which was the greater moment, winning double gold or being given two gorgeous daughters.
Mo added: “They are as amazing as each other but in very different ways. On the track I am in control, it was up to me to perform.
“But at the birth I was powerless, it was a strange feeling. Tania did all the hard work for that.”
Rhianna is from Tania’s previous relationship but has been raised by Mo since she was three.
She goes to school in Portland just up the road from their house. Rhianna, who already speaks with a slight American accent, is clearly enjoying her new life in the US. And she has already discovered that having a famous Olympian dad is a big help when trying to fit in at a new school.
She said: “I took an autograph for all my classmates after the Olympics. They know who he is and what he does, it’s quite cool.”
Tania said they did not have an extravagant Christmas — opting for some quality family time instead.
She said: “Mo and I are both of Muslim backgrounds, so we don’t go overboard for Christmas.”
Mo was born in Somalia, moving to London with his English-born dad when he was eight in 1991. He and Tania, 26, met at school when Mo was 14.
They went to the same athletics club, and Tania was good enough to run at county level herself when she was a teenager.
They started dating in 2008 after staying in touch over the years. Mo said: “I do miss the UK at Christmas time, I miss seeing my friends and family.”
At least he has been able to enjoy a well-earned break — even if he still has not found time to teach the twins how to do his famous hands-on-head “Mobot” pose.
He said: “The twins can’t do the Mobot yet although they can now just about reach their heads with their hands, so it’s only a matter of time. Maybe by the New Year.”
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