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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.