With barely a month and a week to the start of the Olympic Games only two Sierra Leonean athletes may represent Sierra Leone in this year’s Olympic games in China as the athletes in all the sporting disciplines have failed to make the required times to qualify for the games.
Speaking with Pamela Williams desk officer of the athletics association who is also member of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) she said that Sierra Leone is not qualified for the games but normally if the country does not qualify we have a place for two athletes one male and one female to participate as Sierra Leone is one of the Olympic countries.
She said to select the two athletes they have to select the best two in the country one male and one female from series of trials and competitions which they have to participate in.
The selection she went on was carried out by all the coaches involved in the athletics association the national coach and she was also part of the selection.
She said from the assessment by the coaches they decided to select Michaela Kargbo for the female and Solomon Bayoh for the male because both of them have maintained their standard up to this present time.
These two athletes will only take part in one event if when they arrive there is any contest they may take part in other events that they are good in apart from the one event they are supposed to take part in.
She went further that even with the selection of the two athletes most of the athletes and officials also agreed that they were fair with the selection as they knew that the selection was not biased but was on merit.
She said that Sierra Leone was not qualified for the Olympic Games on several occasion because of many problems. “We have a series of competitions but most of the athletes that are coming to the disciplines their standards are very low.”
When asked why the two athletes were not selected from other sporting disciplines only from athletics she replied that in international body when you are given a place to participate it is only in athletics that is why they call it “Wild Card” which gives you the chance to take along one male and one female in such cases when a country does not qualify.
She mentioned in athletics if you are not qualifying you have a chance to represent your country in the games with one female and a male so that your flag will fly during the competition.
These are expected to give chance to the other athletes to improve themselves during the games so when they have the chance to get to the games for the second time they will perform well.
It is not easy to take you athletics from other sporting disciplines as most of these sporting disciplines are team sports.
She went further that their main problem is the photo finish which should have been better for them but we are using our hand timing which is a lot of problem for athletics.
She mentioned that some of the athletes should have gone for their elimination series some time they send you all the way to South Africa and because of funding they are unable to make sure trip
She said with some of these constraints they should have the potential in the country but without photo finish we cannot tell even if they are real good athletes.
Pamela disclosed that there is a body currently running the athletics association but we in the Ministry are trying to do our best so that there will be no more problem in the association.
“We are also doing our best to see that our officials can work in one unit so that they can promote athletics in the country once more.