Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a setback for Sierra Leone’s weightlifting aspirations, two determined athletes, Lamin Kamara and Kalilu Bangura, faced disappointment as they failed to advance in the ongoing 2024 Africa Senior Weightlifting Championship in Egypt. The championship serves as a crucial qualifier for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games.
Accompanied by their coach, the Sierra Leonean weightlifting delegation, comprising Kamara and Bangura, participated in the championship held in Cairo, Egypt, from February 5th to February 11th, 2024.
Lamin Kamara, competing in the 61kg men’s category on Monday, faced tough competition against lifters from Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt. Similarly, on the following day, Kalilu Bangura contested in the 73kg weight category, contending with athletes from Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Libya, Egypt, Cameroon, Tunisia, and Liberia.
Regrettably, both Kamara and Bangura were unable to progress to the next stage of the competition, resulting in their exclusion from the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers.
Expressing his disappointment, Mohamed ‘Ragga’ Bangura, President of the Sierra Leone Weightlifting Association, attributed the athletes’ subpar performance to a lack of support from the government, particularly the Sports Ministry and the National Sports Authority (NSA). Bangura acknowledged the National Olympic Committee/Commonwealth Games Association Sierra Leone (NOC/CGA-SLE) as the sole entity that provided assistance to the Sierra Leone Weightlifting Association.
Bangura criticized the NSA for consistently turning a blind eye to their pleas for support. He highlighted the significance of the African Championships as a crucial opportunity for Sierra Leonean athletes to secure Olympic qualifications, stressing the need for broader support from relevant authorities.
The disappointing outcome underscores the challenges faced by Sierra Leonean weightlifters and emphasizes the urgent need for increased backing to enhance their competitive edge on the international stage. BT/9/2/2024