Sierra Leone at London Olympics – Go team Salone!
The London Olympics is undoubtedly the biggest world-sporting event on the planet and has been in the making for almost a decade. With over 204 participating countries, it is a melting pot of athletes from different disciplines, cultures with the same aim: to make their nations proud. (Photo: l-r Ola Sesay (Women’s Long Jump) and Ibrahim Turay (Mens 200 m) representing Sierra Leone at the 2012 Olympics in London)
Sierra Leoneans were invited by the Olympics liaison officer Mr. Obai Taylor-Kamara to the High Commission to a meet and greet session with the Sierra Leone Olympics delegation, the high commissioner HE Edward M Turay, Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone.
Enthusiastic, Kadia Bangura of the renowned entertainment site www.salonetruefans.com, Bosslady and I agreed that it would be a great opportunity to attend and show them our love and support.
Arriving at the High Commission well in advance before the briefing, we were impressed to see that the key members of the delegation are already present including Ibrahim Turay the 200m runner and Ola Sesay who is the female long jumper. Along with a coaches, a cross section of SLBC, Awoko newspaper representatives, former Sierra Leone medalist Haroun Korji and representatives of the Sierra Leone Para-Olympic Committee.
Representing a website titled “SaloneTrueFans” one can safely assume that we were not there to make a negative impact. The information attaché was helpful and we spoke to the two athletes themselves who were willing to conduct a very short interview before general members of the public arrived, as there would be very little time to do so afterwards.
Protocol-par-protocol we were blocked from doing a very simple fun interview at the start by the usual bureaucratic schmooze which sometimes does not facilitate reactive productivity. As a dedicated Sierra Leonean who had travelled from far to attend and promote mama Salone I personally felt like this was counter-productive.
Despite the initial setback no one is above the law, so in the spirit of that: the team waited for the briefing.
The head of chancery Mr. SP Demba, Senior Diplomats, Councilors and members of staff at the High Commission introduced themselves alongside the Chief-De-Mission of the Olympic delegation and other High Ranking members of the NOC (National Olympic Committee).
They were very keen on clearing the air with regards to a lot of negative heat they were receiving on the Internet through social networking sites & “bush radio”. They explained the stringent Olympics regulations on qualifications, sizes of delegations and the amount of people that can be present at the opening ceremony. In essence if President Earnest Koroma had been there then we would have had a bigger presence both on the field procession and in the box cheering on.
It is interesting to note according to Unisa Deen-Kargbo (Chief-De-Mission) that we had a team of 150 people to start with, this was then reduced to 50 and about 2 years ago it was reduced further to 25. The teams you see now were the ones who actually qualified under the International Olympics Committees guidelines.
His Excellency Edward M Turay was gracious in his remarks and thanked all those attending the session with a specific focus on the athletes. He stated that come race day (7th August 2012) he would be kneeling in front of his TV, praying and cheering on the team in the 200m men’s sprint and in the Women’s Long Jump.
The athletes did get a chance to say a few short words, which went down well with the audience. Pamela Williams (Mrs.) thanked government & the NOC for the good work and urged them to continue doing more in terms of bringing sports participation to the masses. She cited what an honor it was to have Ola Sesay representing Sierra Leone and being one of the first women in the world to qualify for the 2012 Olympics long jump. As for women’s rights in Sierra Leone it is believed that Ola is a champion and should be a role model to our girls.
Politico end politico Mr. Obai Taylor-Kamara thanked everyone for attending and reminded the two athletes that we were all cheering for them regardless of the outcomes of the games.
So after all the politicking, photo calls and autograph signings we had a chance for BossLady to finally interview the athletes.
During the briefing Ola and Ibrahim seem a bit restrained, but once we were in a one-to-one setting they were really at ease and you could get a sense that they were two normal folks trying to make our country proud in their own way. They are focused, driving and appreciative of the responsibilities ahead.
Ola Sesay is a qualified Dr in physiotherapy based in the USA and was proud to go back home to represent her country: which is already an inspiration for every person in the Diaspora. Ibrahim Turay is just a cool guy like any other youth – lucky to have been able to train in Senegal for the games, he is also a reflection that the Ministry and Government must do more to provide facilities for our home based artist to practice and excel.
They both listen to a variety of music and were very satisfied by the welcome given to them in London. They loved the atmosphere in the Olympic village, the mixture of cultures, food, etc.
It is interesting to note that even though asked separately they gave the same answer to the question “What Does The Government Need To Do To Build Our Sporting Prowess” – very simply they stated that “We need more national facilities and more competitions” Competitions brings out competitors, competitors win medals!! Quite simple I think.
We totally support Ola Sesay & Ibrahim Turay, whether they win a medal or not they are already champions in our eyes (although a bronze, silver or gold will give us some serious bragging rights). Show your support on Twitter & Facebook by posting with the Hashtags: #teamsalone #salone
Watch the full interviews and exclusive pictures at www.salonetruefans.com and follow us on twitter.com @SaloneTrueFans and @NickAsgillius.
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