March 17, 2016 By Sahr Morris Jnr.
A decade after he absconded at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, Sierra Leone sprinter Lamin Tucker says it was the best decision he has ever made in life.
The former Olympian, who was the captain of the Sierra Leone team at the 2006 Games, decided to run away rather than return home after some of his teammates fled the tournament before the 4×100 metres relay.
Tucker told Fairfax Media that his decision was not premeditated as he was convinced by a coach that it would not be safe to return to Sierra Leone after he had publicly criticised the then government for failing to pay their (the athletes) stipend.
“That was the best decision I ever made,” he told Fairfax Media from his home in Sydney’s southern suburbs. “I never wanted to flee but I am happy I made the right decision and now my life has changed, I am a very happy man now.”
Tucker, who is no longer active in athletics, now has so much more – Australian citizenship, a diploma in Sport Development, a wife and best of all three Australian-born children.
He said: “I have had three beautiful kids in Australia, they are Australian, they are lucky they have never gone through all the struggles that I have gone through, this is my home forever, the home of my children.”
Tuesday, 15 March marked 10 years since the opening ceremony of the 2006 Games, and the anniversary comes just 25 months before the Gold Coast stages the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Sporting officials in Australia celebrated the anniversary with a commemorative dinner at the MCG, but Tucker and his 13 former teammates will hold their own party in Sydney on Sunday, 20 March.