News / Africa

Sierra Leone in Paralympics for First Time

Mohamed Kamara and his coach, Abu Bakar Conteh, warm up before a training session ahead of the 2012 Paralympic. (VOA - N. deVries)Mohamed Kamara and his coach, Abu Bakar Conteh, warm up before a training session ahead of the 2012 Paralympic. (VOA - N. deVries)
x
Mohamed Kamara and his coach, Abu Bakar Conteh, warm up before a training session ahead of the 2012 Paralympic. (VOA - N. deVries)
Mohamed Kamara and his coach, Abu Bakar Conteh, warm up before a training session ahead of the 2012 Paralympic. (VOA - N. deVries)

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — For the first time in history an athlete from Sierra Leone is competing in the Paralympic games which take place in London at the end of August.

 

Mohamed Kamara's coach shouts commands at his young athlete who bolts across an empty football (soccer) field in Freetown,  the capital city of Sierra Leone.

 

Sweat drips down Kamara's face as he makes his own record time of 11.45 seconds covering 100 meters. 

 

The 22-year-old is doing last minute training before his trip to London next week.

 

He is competing in sprint running and has been training six times a week, four to five hours-a-day for the past seven months. 

 

Kamara says he is determined to win a medal for his country.  "I'm going to do it, I'm going to prove it, to take the Salone flag higher. To take the nation higher," he said. 

 

Like most athletes Kamara knows he has to work hard to get ahead.  And he says he is ready for the challenge.

 

But this journey has not been easy. 

 

Kamara was just a child when a civil war hit Sierra Leone in the 1990s. 

 

During that time rebel fighters were notorious for cutting off people's limbs. 

 

Kamara was just one of thousands of victims. 

 

He remembers the day the rebels attacked his home. "And so they chopped our hands and they killed my mother and father in front of me," he said. 

 

He managed to escape from the brutal scene. And a man eventually found him hiding in a bush and brought him to the hospital for treatment.

 

His entire arm had to be amputated because of his hand being cut off. 

 

Kamara's relatives heard where he was and took him in.

 

He says as a child he was constantly teased because of his disability. So to clear his mind he decided to start running as a hobby. 

 

He says he did not want to live a life that so many amputees do.  "I don't want to go to the streets and beg," he said. 

 

Little did he know running would one day get him to the point of competing.

 

In 2002 he was discovered by a track coach Abu Bakar Conteh.   

 

They have been training together ever since. 

 

This coach says his athlete's drive is unstoppable. "He's a man with dedication, he's a man with talent, he's a man with determination …so all those difficulties and discouragement he does absorb it and take courage for himself in order to pursue his talent," he said. 

 

Kamara's family is also proud of how far the young athlete has come. His uncle Hamid Bangura says he will be glued to a television set when his nephew competes. "I'm very happy because he is going to participate for the country. I'm so glad over that," he said. 

 

Back on the football field, Kamara explains that there have been financial challenges for him too because his family lives hand to mouth. 

 

He says the Paralympic committee does pay for some expenses such as travel to London and accommodations there. 

 

But the day to day things like food and transportation for practice come out of his own pocket.  " I don't have sufficient food to eat for the competition," he said. 

 

Still, it is the thought of the competition and what representing his country could mean for other physically challenged people that keeps him going.

 

He says amputees are so marginalized right now in Sierra Leone and he wants to give them a voice and show that they are just as good as anyone else and can accomplish anything they set their minds to. 

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid