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Naturalised Sierra Leonean sprinter books Rio Olympic ticket

June 21, 2016 By Sahr Morris Jr.

Former Sierra Leone and now Dutch sprinter, Solomon Bockarie, secured his ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the 200m after clocking 20:44 sec at the Dutch Championships in Amsterdam ARV Ilion.

Bocakrie, who recently acquired Dutch citizenship by naturalisation, was able to secure a silver medal after he finished second in the 200m race behind Churandy Martina.

The 29-year-old, who during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games represented Sierra Leone under the wildcard allocation as unqualified athletes, will now wear the Orange colours of Holland in the Rio Games as a qualified athlete.

Reacting to his success, the former Sierra Leone sprinter said: “I knew if I could finish close behind Churandy, I would run the Olympic limit and that is what happened. This is really very important to me, it means a lot to me. I cannot believe it; I am delighted to achieve this because I worked very hard during the last winter to make the necessary step to qualify me for Rio.

“Having achieved this, we will now go for the European Championship, try to reach the final and then I can prepare well for the Olympics. I am very happy that this is finally done and I am looking forward to the Olympics, thanks to everyone who has supported me here.”

The sprinter could also have the opportunity to represent the Dutch in the 4×100 metres relay, but his individual success over the weekend was an icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, the news prompted reaction from the Sierra Leone Athletic Association (SLAA) president, Abdul Karim Sesay, who expressed his disappointment of not having the sprinter to represent his country of birth in Rio.

He said: “I am disappointed he will not be running for us. Our authorities failed to meet the necessary call by us and the athletes and we lost him. I hope this will be a lesson for us.”

Bockarie, who represented Sierra Leone in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, applied for Dutch citizenship just after having a successful winter with his club last year.

He became the latest athlete from Sierra Leone to switch citizenship after Eunice Barber, who initially competed for Sierra Leone and then for France in 1999 and onwards.

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