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Gambian duo set for Olympic debut

Aug 3, 2012, 2:04 PM | Article By: Baboucarr Camara in London

All Gambians will have their eyes firmly set on the athletics track at London’s Olympic Stadium in Stratford on Friday and Saturday when the country’s only two Olympic athletes take to the lane for the 100 meter sprint event.

Wild-card participant Saruba Colley will be the first to take to the track on Friday when she will compete at the qualifying series of the women’s 100 meters event.

Compatriot Suwaibou Sanneh, who became the first Gambian to secure an Olympic qualification on merit, will start at the first round of the men’s sprint a day later on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Suwaibou Sanneh, who was born in Jarra Soma in the Lower River Region, reached the semi-final at the 2008 World Junior Championships and competed at the 2008 Olympic Games without progressing to the second round.

Finishing fifth in his heat with a time of 10.52 seconds but the youngster has since improved on his timing and having secured his qualification to the XXX Olympiad, in the process set a personal best and national record time in 10.22 seconds, achieved on May 19, 2012 in Jamaica.

Suwaibou participated at the last quadrennial Games in Beijing on the wild card arrangement but the 22-year-old has now joined hundreds of other elite world athletes who have qualified for the Games that get underway on Friday.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Pointsports looking ahead of his participation in the Games, Suwaibou who spent the last three years training at the High Performance Training Centre in Kingston, Jamaica said he is in a perfect condition to participate.

“I have been training at the Olympic Stadium since my arrival and it was very hot today [Tuesday] which is a very good condition for me. I am hopeful of reaching the semi-finals for this year and if the weather continues to be like this, I know that I can go a long way,” he said.

The country’s best sprinter added that his preparations for this year’s Games is of far better condition compared to the last Games in the Chinese capital, as he has not encountered any difficulties since his arrival at the Olympic Village in Stratford.

Saruba was suffering from toothache having lost one of her teeth but the youngster has since fully recovered from the pain and is hoping to secure the necessary timing in her quest to participate in the first round proper.

The two Gambians were visited at the Olympic Village in Stratford by the Gambian Minister of Youth and Sports this week and speaking to them at the presence of the entire team, Alieu Kebba Jammeh first paid tribute to Suwaibou Sanneh for securing the country a first Olympic qualification.

According to him, he has no doubt in his mind that the duo will represent the country honourably but was quick to add that they are not under any pressure to win a medal.

Alieu Jammeh, who is hopeful that Suwaibou can get to the semifinals of the competition, also encouraged Saruba Colley to go out there and enjoy herself and hailed her for having a talent that will improve massively before the next Games in the Brazilian City of Rio de Janeiro in 2016.