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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid