Country: Sierra Leone
Profession: Athlete – 100m/200m
- 2016 Olympian
- 2015 World Champs team
- 3x Commonwealth Games team
Can you tell us about the moment you walked into the stadium at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games as one of the flagbearers for Sierra Leone?
It was really transcending for me, and also a full circle moment because the very first time I represented Sierra Leone was at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. To be at my third Commonwealth Games back in Europe again was special. Coming this time as a flag bearer was an honor and one that I’m incredibly thankful for. For me the most memorable and most impactful part of these Games is being able to represent Sierra Leone with my fellow country mates across different disciplines. Because I’m based in the US, the only time I really get to see my other teammates is during international competitions. Oftentimes they look at me for leadership and motivation to step up and represent the country even in unfortunate situations back at home. So, for us to all come together regardless of what state or country you reside in, and toput ‘Mama Salone’ on our backs – that’s the thing that’s most impactful for me.
You seem to really focus on personal development and growth – what have you found out about yourself this year that maybe you didn’t know before?
There is one thing that I realized about myself this year; it comes off as a negative thing but I’m learning to turn it into a positive. It is that oftentimes as athletes we tend to just focus on the goal, focus on wanting more and more and more and not necessarily the journey or the things that we have achieved on that journey. That is something that I fall victim to. This year I have been dealing with injuries, being in the hospital and being off for about five months, and still being able to run well enough to make it to the Commonwealth Games. I really had to take a step back and look at the fact that I have achieved a lot, I am strong, and I am capable, and I need to take more time for those type of things.
Which do you prefer: 100m or 200m, and why?
I get this question often. I have to say I prefer the 200m and honestly that has happened as I’ve gotten older. When I first started running track, I always preferred the 100m because I was like ‘it’s shorter so it’s faster’. Now that I’m older I’m realizing just how fast that 100m is and with the 200m you actually get more time to build into your speed. And you know these old bones and need a longer time to get the engine going, haha.
We know you are a passionate advocate for women and children, what have you found to be the biggest obstacles that girls face?
The biggest obstacle that girls and women face is the lack of education, lack of communication and lack of support. Especially for those who live in areas where like Sierra Leone, where there’s limited resources. That is something that I feel needs to change and that’s why I try my best not just to advocate but also share information from others who are knowledgeable when it comes to women’s health and child development. This empowers women to understand who they are, what they’re doing or even how their body functions. The number one tool is knowledge, so helping everyone to know exactly what is going on and how they can live life for the better is key and then offering mentorship and support. I want to give young girls and women who don’t have that guidance and don’t know which steps that take to better their lives, an opportunity to gain knowledge in order to do so.
Looking ahead to life after athletics, do you have an idea of what that life may look like for you?
It’s crazy because right now I feel as if I’ve already started life after athletics while in athletics. I’m somewhat unorthodox position where I’m still competing as professional athlete and also working in a job – I work in digital marketing for a basketball league.
You need financial support as an athlete, but sometimes you will not get that from your country, and so I needed to support myself in terms of my competitions and travels. The job that I have allows me to be flexible and work around my schedule as an athlete and also be able to combine the skills that I’ve developed as an athlete and bring that to my job where I’m working with young athletes and giving them mentorship, guidance and support they need. My goal after I retire is to have more time to translate that not just here in the US but also into Sierra Leone and other countries in West Africa and provide that knowledge, experience, and opportunities for young athletes.
We read that you also enjoy knitting, what is your favourite knitted item and why?
I’m very much so enjoy knitting. It is actually something that I do in season when I’m traveling, it helps me to relax and not to overthink. Funny thing is I have a scarf that I have been knitting since I started competing, so it’s been about 8 years now. I travel with it and it’s a continuous project, I’ll definitely let you know when I finish it ☺️.
What is your go-to meal if you have friends around for dinner?
My go to meal is gonna be one of two things. If it’s a Tuesday, then it will be smoked Turkey tacos. I love tacos and I’d have a taco everyday if I could. The other is Granat soup, it is a Sierra Leonean dish and Granat means peanuts in the Creole language. It’s basically peanut butter soup and you can eat it with white rice or fufu. I try not to eat that too much but like when I cook it, it’s good.