- Though it is always said he comes from Mogadishu, the war-torn capital of Somalia, his remarkable journey, according to friends, began in the north-western city of Gabiley, where Mo was born into a family of modest means in 1983. His father, Muktar, was living in West London, but had met and married Mo’s mother on a trip to his homeland. At that time, rebel forces in the territory, now called Somaliland, had declared independence and it was besieged by government forces. Since then, the country has become relatively stable and prosperous. The city nestles in a range of 4,000ft mountains and Mo was constantly asked to run errands. Doubtless this helped build up his enormous reserves of lung power.
Like so many East African runners, he is also blessed with a vast-striding, antelope-like gait. When he was seven, however, Mo went to live with better-off relatives in the safer, neighbouring country of Djibouti. According to an old friend, Faisal Musa, his nickname was ‘Bine Bine’; the title of a comedy film which he watched repeatedly. Mr Musa told the Mail: ‘We don’t care whether he is British or Somali. He is one of us.’