March 11, 2015 By Sahr Morris Jr.
Sierra Leone sprinter Jimmy Thoronka has been overwhelmed with offers of help from British citizens just five days after British media – the Guardian – published their first report of the athlete being found starving and homeless in London.
According to the Guardian, since Friday lunchtime when they broke the story about Thoronka, thousands of people from UK and all over the world have responded to his plight and the first offer of help came less than five minutes after the story went online.
“A man said that if the Guardian could let him know what Thoronka needed in terms of food and clothes he would be happy to meet at London’s Kings Cross Station and hand them over. Then a London web designer called and said he would be happy to have Thoronka move in and sleep on his sofa,” the news portal reported.
It was further reported that Richard Dent, a Cambridge University PhD student, setup a ‘gofundme’ campaign for the sprinter which raised more than £20,000 in the space of two days. Dent appealed for funds to help Thoronka with his training, whether it is in the UK, back in Sierra Leone or in a third country.
Meanwhile, the sprinter was last Saturday arrested by London police on a charge of overstaying his visa. He was released the following day (Sunday night) and will not be deported to Sierra Leone.
“I am so happy that I am free again,” he told the Guardian. “At first I was told that they were going to send me back to Sierra Leone and I cried and cried. I was very scared.”
With lots of help now, the short distance runner said: “I am amazed that people all over the world have offered to help me after they read my story. I don’t know how to thank everyone. If I can make a success of my life as a sprinter, my plan is to go back to Sierra Leone and help homeless people. I know how much suffering there is when you are homeless. Last week I had no hope but now maybe I will make it.”
Thoronka was part of the Sierra Leone delegation that travelled to the UK last July to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He ran in the 4 x 100-metre relay.