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The Sierra Leone Olympic delegation in this years Olympic Games paid a courtesy call to the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, Edward Turay, at his 41 Eagle Street office in London on Tuesday July 31st 2012. (Photo: The NOC President Henry G Moore making a statement )
During the visit the Chef de Mission, Unisa Deen Kargbo, who is the leader of the Olympic delegation briefed the High Commissioner and staff about the Sierra Leone delegation and made the certain clarification of the bad media going on in Sierra Leone about the number of athletes compared to the number of officials that are presently in London.
Unisa Deen Kargbo said when they started the process of accreditation he got supervision from the NOC Secretary Joseph Nyande and President Henry Moore and a total of one hundred and fifteen, names including officials and athletes from nine disciplines were inscribed. These were Athletics, Swimming, Cycling, Weightlifting, Fencing, Wrestling, Boxing, Table Tennis and Judo.
Unfortunately only Athletics produced a qualified athlete for the games.
According to chef de mission Unisa Deen Kargbo Rule 38 of the Olympic charter is very clear that the number of officials is calculated by the number of qualified athletes. So Sierra Leone sports delegation stands as follows: Two Athletes: Ola Sesay from the USA who met the B Standard qualifying in Long Jump with a distance of 6.71 meters. From Freetown, from training camp in Senegal is Ibrahim Turay who recently ran 200M in the Benin games with an improved time of 22.00sec. Others include Abu Batalomen Kamara the Coach, Pamela Williams the Chaperone, Dr. Patrick Coker the Medical Doctor, and Unisa Deen Kargbo the Chef De Mission. They are in the games village.
The non-sports delegation, which will only attend specific functions on the invitation of the IOC include: The Minster – Paul Kamara, who is absent because of ill health and other government engagements back home. Ag. Director of Sports – Alphan Koker, NOC President – Henry Moore, and Secretary – Joseph Nyande.
For the first time in Sierra Leone, two journalists, Bernard Turay and Musa Kamara were accredited to cover the events.
According to Unisa Deen Kargbo that was the reason that during the open ceremony we had only 6 people in attendance during the march past. He also revealed that the High Commissioner Edward Turay did not attend because the President of the country Ernest Bai Koroma was not present, if he should have been present, the High Commissioner Edward Turay should have accompanied him to the opening ceremony according to the IOC rule.
Taking the podium to make a statement, the High Commissioner Edward Turay said that he is very happy for such clarification as he has received a lot of questions from Sierra Leoneans asking why was he not present during the opening ceremony and why only two athletes and many officials and he is now happy that things have been clarified.
He also said that the number of athletes does not matter but the determination and the commitment of the athletes is what is very important and he hopes that the two athletes will live up to expectations.
He also stated that he is always available to attend any programme in the UK organized by Sierra Leoneans, that is why he is here.
The NOC President Henry G Moore said that he is very happy for such a gathering as he has attending many games they have not received such reception at any point in time but as NOC they are not happy to have only two athletes in this year’s Olympic Games but as you heard from the chef de mission there were over 40 athletes in the list but only one qualified; we even applied for training for 8 athletes but only two were approved by the Olympic Solidarity, one from athletics and the other from wrestling which Ibrahim Turay is presently benefiting from.
In the case of Ibrahim Turay, participating in the games is the requirement from IOC that two athletes should represent their country, one male and one female – when a country does not qualify, that is why Ibrahim Turay an unqualified athlete is representing the country in this year’s Olympic Games.
He also went further to thank the former MP of Hasting UK Michael Foster and High Commissioner Edward Turay for their contribution for the Sierra Leone athletes to have a weeks’ training before the games which was very good for the athletes.
The Deputy Director of Sports, Alphan Koker, in his own contribution said that they in the Ministry of Youth Employment and Sports are very happy to be part of the Sierra Leone delegation for this year;s games, he said that the minister Paul Kamara should have been here but when they were in Korea he felt ill and also because of other government commitment that why he is not here but is totally behind the team.
Pamela Williams in her own contribution said that she is very happy to be part of this year’s Olympic games as the only qualifying athlete in this year games is a woman and as the president for woman in sports in Sierra Leone she is very happy for that and in the oncoming games they hope to have more quality athletes.
Both athletes also make contribution they thanked the High Commissioner Edward Turay and staff for the warm reception they received since they arrived in the United Kingdom and they hoped to do their best – both athletes will be in action on the 7th of this month.
The programme was chaired by the head of Chancery Sahr Demba in the Sierra Leone High Commission in UK while there were also social interaction between the Sierra Leone delegation, Staff of the High Commission, and also members of the Sierra Leone Community in the UK.
By Bernard Turay in the UK
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