Start Some Good for Idrissa Kargbo
Twenty-something Idrissa Kargbo, who has been running long distance for 10 years, told VOA's Nina DeVries that he is honored to represent his country and hopes to beat his own record of two hours and 35 minutes.
According to DeVries, Kargbo gained support through the help of Jo Dunlop, an Australian expatriate living in Sierra Leone.
They met at the National Stadium in Freetown, where Dunlop would go running. She saw Kargbo's potential and helped sponsor him in the first marathon ever held in Sierra Leone, which he won with a national record of two hours and 38 minutes, DeVries said.
After his big win in Sierra Leone, Dunlop decided to nominate him for the New York City Marathon. Fundraising efforts have amassed $13,000 in donations - enough to get Kargbo to New York for the opportunity of a lifetime.
"They [NYC marathon organizers] gave him a complimentary ticket and a place with the sub-elite runners, which means he'll start the race on the Brooklyn Bridge, with the big wigs, the big guns, the Ethiopians and the Kenyans," explains Dunlop. "And hopefully he'll get some special treatment in the lead-up to the race and it will be a great opportunity for him to network and meet other runners."
And according to Ishmail Al-Sankoh Conteh, the deputy minister of sports, that is the plan. He says an "action plan" has been established that looks at gaining more financial support for sports such as long distance and sprint running.
"We want to put more attention, on distance running, because we think we have more potential to get medals in distance running," Conteh says, adding that the Ministry of Finance is looking at a budget for the program. If approved, he expects the plan can be rolled out by next year. - (Nina DeVries, "Sierra Leone Runner to Compete in NYC Marathon" October 22, 2013)
"Idrissa has really come a long way," said Abdul Tejan-Cole, a former commissioner of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission and currently executive director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. "I knew him as a little boy growing up at small community called 'Mafengbeh' around Byrne Lane-Aberdeen Road. He used to run from Byrne Lane to attend school at St Edwards. Really happy for him."
Idrissa will be one of the first professional Sierra Leonean athlete to ever run the New York marathon. With your help, Global Fashpack will send him there. See more at: Start Some Good