Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 August 2022:
Dozens of athletes from Sierra Leone arrived two weeks ago in Birmingham, UK, where they will compete with top athletes from across the Commonwealth in field and track events. The young team from Sierra Leone were seen last week at the opening ceremony of the Games in Birmingham, in their colourful national colours – Green, White and Blue, symbolising hope and renewal.
Athletes from Sierra Leone are yet to make any impact on world athletics compared to their Nigerian counterparts – one of whom, two weeks ago set a world record in women’s one hundred meters hurdles in the USA.
No one is expecting Sierra Leone’s athletes to set world records at these Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but there is plenty of hope of at least winning one medal to take back home to uplift the mood of the nation.
As track and field competitions get underway today, some African nations are proving their mettle at the games. After five days of competition, South Africa has won 12 medals – 5 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze in fifth position; with Nigeria making good progress in 10th place, after winning 5 medals – 2 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze.
Will Sierra Leone make an impact at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, or are the nation’s athletes simply there to put up an appearance in their beautiful green, white and blue?
These are the athletes representing Sierra Leone at the 2022 Commonwealth Games:
Fatmata Awolo, Para Athletics aged 21; Fatmata Bah, Beach Volleyball, aged 23; Abdul Bangura, Badminton, aged 28; Alfred Bangura, Judo, aged 32; Christian Bangura, Judo, aged 37; Ibrahim Karim Bangura, Para Athletics, aged 21; Ishmail Bangura, Beach Volleyball, aged 26; Jenifer Fatmata Bangura, Para Athletics, aged 19; Sheku S Bangura, Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 18; Sonny Bangura, Beach Volleyball, aged 19; Saidu Barrie, Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 18; Zainab Barrie, Wrestling, aged 18; John Browne, Boxing, aged 21; Mohamed Bundu, Wrestling, aged 25; Deedra Arvella Chestnut, Boxing, aged 25.
Alford Conteh, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 23; Ibrahim Ezago Conteh, Badminton, aged 20; Noah Conteh, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 19; Yusufu Deen Kargbo, Boxing, aged 18; Brima Nelson Domawa, Para Powerlifting, aged 36; Tity Dumbuya, Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 18; Sam Fatorma, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 20; Gladys M Fofana, Beach Volleyball, aged 22; Bernadette Fofanah, Beach Volleyball, aged 22; Isha Fofanah, Boxing, aged 17; Hawanatu Fornah, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 18.
Sara Haghighat-Joo, Boxing, aged 27; Halle Kadijay Harris; Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 14; Kanu Isha, Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 21; Foday Kallon, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 21; Alie Kamara Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 25; Alpha Breezy Kamara, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 22; Amadu O Kamara, Wrestling, aged 20; Hafsatu Kamara, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 30; Hector Nathaniel Kamara, Judo, aged 26; John Kamara, aged 27.
Mohamed Kamara, Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 18; Mohamed Karim Kamara, Beach Volleyball, aged 18; Samuel Kamara, Boxing, aged 28; Abu Kanu, Boxing, aged 17; Kadiatu Kanu, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 19; Sorie Kargbo, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 21; Sulaiman Kargbo, Wrestling, aged 19; Sheku Kassegbama, Wrestling, aged 19; Zainab Keita, Boxing, aged 25; Sia Kendema, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 18; Madusu Koroma, Wrestling, aged 19; Rashid Samuka Mambu Moiwa, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 28; Julius Morie, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 22; Salamatu Sinnah Mustapha, Badminton, aged 41; Sam Elizerbeth Olamiday, Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 22; Rugiatu Sankoh, Para Powerlifting, aged 31; Madiana Mariama Sesay, Table Tennis and Para Table Tennis, aged 19; Mohamed Sesay, Wrestling, aged 20.
Mohamed Lansana Sesay, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 18; Va-Sheku Sheriff, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 23; Ismayl Sillakh, Boxing, aged 36; Arnold Snell, Table Tennis and Para Table Tennis, aged 40; Mary Thomas Tarawally, Athletics and Para Athletics, aged 26; Kenny Williams, Judo, aged 26; George Wyndham, Table Tennis and Para Table Tennis, aged 31; Joshua Wyse, Aquatics -Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 20; Mary Yongai, Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming, aged 18.
Sierra Leone’s athletics is marred by inadequate funding, poor training and lack of world standard facilities.
Unlike the Olympic Games, in which almost all countries are allowed to take part , the Commonwealth games of 72 former British colonies and the ones that opted to join the Commonwealth of nations , should be seen as a slim down version of the Olympic Games that gives athletes from countries like ours and some Islands in the Caribbean, South Pacific , Africa and the Indian Sub -continent to shine. And good luck to our Olympic teams that is flying our flag and representing Sierra Leone. Our participation in this events whether is in the Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games has always been the same, to make up the numbers or just the feeling of taking part. And we should not be reduced to that losers mentality .As a nation of almost eight million people, we should to be sporting ambitious and try and be in the medals table .On our current performance, there is no hope in hell we can win any medals in this Commonwealth games in Bermingham.
We still have a long way to be truly counted as the country to beat in this commonwealth Olympic events . It shows the lip service governments of all colours have displayed in promoting and enhancing sporting activities in our country .Compared to other countries like Kenya , Uganda , South Africa and Nigeria and even India we are not as competitive enough to give us any chance to be on the medals tables list of participating nation .And it underscores the lack of investment in youth sports and sporting facilities in our country. Everything in our country is seen through the prism of politics . Unlike Bio’s can cabinet, this list of Sierra Leoenean Olympic participants are a true reflection of our country and it’s people .And that is what sport is all about .Is your strength not your political connection that got you in that list of atlhelets .Also the team reflects out country’s dark history with the RUF wars .Not long ago former President Koroma’s government was banning group jogging in our country .At the time I felt that was no brainer. How are we going to produce long distances runners if people are not allowed to congregate or organise sporting events because the government of the day is scared of ordinary citizens congregating in one place to do what they like?
After all physical activity is good for the health of the nation .Majorirty of countries atltlets that come away with Gold , Silver and Bronze medal don’t have super natural powers .The only thing they all have in common is there governments knows they can promote their country’s profile through sport .No other African countries understand that better than Algeria , Morroco , Ethiopia, Kenya, Tunisia, South Africa , Uganda and Nigeria . The later which holds Africa’s largest black population is now playing catch-up. We need to build more sporting facilities and encourage competitive sports between our primary and secondary school children so that Sierra Leone will produce it’s own Usain Bolt or Sir Mo Farah .
Until we accept that sports can be a profession, and Until we treat it as such, the dream of lasting honours, medals and accolades will remain buta fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.