Mo Farah

The greatest Brits born abroad 

Photo: Getty Images

They may have been born outside of Britain but these sports heroes possess all the determination that makes it ‘Great’ 

Athletes born abroad representing Britain isn’t new. It goes as far back as Indian-born Charles Gmelin, who became the first man to win a medal for Great Britain at a modern Olympics in 1896.

Here’s the deal: if you hold a British passport, you’re eligible. And if you have the bravery, fortitude and perseverance to succeed, then you’re British through and through. These inspirational people born outside of our green and pleasant land have these qualities in abundance.


Born in Somalia and raised in Djibouti, Mo Farah moved to Britain aged eight and was at first more interested in football than athletics. Then his physical education teacher noticed his turn of pace and moved him in the direction of a sport he has excelled in since starting out in 1996.

The distance runner, along with his celebratory ‘Mobot’ pose, has continually demonstrated the speed, strength and ability required to win. You’ll find gold medals from the Olympics and World Championships in his trophy cabinet, and there’s surely more to come.

© Paul Burbidge // YouTube


Maybe not the most recognisable of names but Ukrainian-born Olga Butkevych has shown perseverance in the face of adversity since UK Sport axed funding for the GB wrestling team for Rio 2016.

She was Great Britain’s only wrestler at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and became Team GB’s first female medallist at the World Championships in the same year. The commanding sportswoman also won European bronze in 2014. 

© YouTube // Mikael Karlsson 


Born in Nairobi and brought up in Kenya and South Africa, Chris Froome has achieved great success riding for Britain since 2008. This is, after all, where the OBE winner’s father and grandparents were born.

‘Froomey’ as he is also known won the ultimate test of endurance, the Tour de France in both 2013 and 2015. He’s a top professional with the mental resilience needed to perform at the highest level.

© BikeCycling // YouTube


Tennis player Laura Robson was born in Australia but she has displayed that British knack of getting up again when times get tough; she missed a year and a half out after wrist surgery but refuses to give up.

Belief remains strong in a player who became the first Briton to win the Wimbledon Junior Girls’ Championship since 1984 when she triumphed in 2008. 

Tournament time @carowozniacki 🇬🇧☀️🎾

A post shared by Laura Robson (@laurarobson5) on


Another cyclist who came to our shores from abroad is Bradley Wiggins. Born in Belgium and the son of Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins, he was knighted by the Queen in 2013 for services to his sport.

‘Wiggo’ won gold at the London Olympics and was the first British winner of the Tour de France. He also won BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2012. 

© BSGProductions // YouTube


Born in Kinsgton, Jamaica, John Barnes moved to London when he was 12-years-old. He was a star of the all-conquering Liverpool team of the 1980s and was voted by FourFourTwo magazine as being among the Reds’ greatest players of all time. The winger scored 11 times for England in 79 appearances, while off the pitch his rap for the World Cup 1990 team song “World in Motion” became as iconic as this goal he scored against Brazil.

© YouTube // tigerrick

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04 2016 The Red Bulletin

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