News / Africa

Sierra Leone Runner to Compete in NYC Marathon

Idrissa Kargbo gets ready to run at the National Stadium, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Oct. 21, 2013 (N.deVries for VOA).
Idrissa Kargbo gets ready to run at the National Stadium, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Oct. 21, 2013 (N.deVries for VOA).
Sierra Leone, for the first time, is sending a runner to compete in one the most prestigious international running events -- the New York City Marathon.  Soccer is the ruling sport in this West African nation, but runner Idrissa Kargbo hopes to change that. 

In an empty stadium under a blazing sun, Kargbo is preparing for the biggest race of his life.

His coach barks instructions at him as the 22-year-old runner aims to beat his own record of two hours and 35 minutes.

At the New York City marathon he'll be running 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers.  He's hoping he can get his time down to two hours and 20 minutes and is honored to represent his country.

“I'm going to try to put my country international, to run a good time, so my people here can appreciate what I'm doing there," Kargbo says proudly.

Kargbo has been running long distance for 10 years.  It has not been easy though.  There have even been times when he has lived on the streets.

"I came from a poor family.  I don't have a job to get money," he explains.

It was through the help of Jo Dunlop, an Australian expatriate living in Sierra Leone, that Kargbo gained support.

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.

He also recently competed in a marathon in Liberia where he placed second.

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.

He is even featured as an inspiration story on the New York City marathon website.

"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."

Those other runners he may meet could include stars such as Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, who won the 2011 New York City Marathon.

Dunlop says just having Kargbo in the race is a big accomplishment as it puts long distance running in the spotlight in Sierra Leone, a country where soccer is the dominant sport.

Both Dunlop and Kargbo hope Sierra Leone's government will look at giving more support to long distance running.  

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.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More