20 year old Jimmy Thoronka, a top sprinter from Sierra Leone who
competed at the
Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August 2014 is now broke, homeless and
living illegally on the streets of London. Jimmy vanished after the
Games where he competed in the 100-meter relay race after he was told
that his entire adoptive family had been wiped out by Ebola in the small
village of Bombali district in Sierra Leone.
While trying to find his feet in London, his passport and all the money he had was stolen from him…
Jimmy’s Visa expired in September and with no way to get back home, he started to sleep on the streets.
“Mostly, I sleep at the park,” he told The Guardian. “Sleeping in the
park, sleeping on the bus, moving around the bus up and down … So I’ll
be doing that until daybreak.”
He said he still hopes to be a world athlete and has been keeping shape even though he was destitute
“I really want to be a star, a real athlete, a good athlete, one of the
best stars in the world, or at least in my country. So I have that dream, that even in the situation I’m in, and
the constraints that I face, I just keep saying to myself, ‘OK, I have
to keep training, I have to keep training.’”
Shortly after Guardian ran his interview, he was tracked down and
arrested by London police on a charge of overstaying his visa. But after
a thorough investigation, the UK police decided not to deport after
confirming that his hometown Gbendembu in Sierra Leone was badly hit by
Ebola and remains under quarantine.
“I am so happy that I am free again,” he told the Guardian on Sunday. “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.”
After Guardian ran a second story on the athlete, someone touched by his
plight opened a gofundme page for him to help him raise money. So far
about $40,000 has been raised for Jimmy.
“I am amazed that people all over the world have offered to help me after they read my story,” he told Guardian.
“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.”