Commonwealth Games athlete Thoronka applies to live in UK

Athlete Jimmy Thoronka, Sierra Leone’s top 100m sprinter, applied to stay in UK after Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but his application had been rejected

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Children of Sierra Leone

A successful Sierra Leonean athlete, Jimmy Thronka, did not return to his home and was arrested in the UK after the Commonwealth Games in the summer of 2014 in Glasgow. Months later he was discovered distraught on the streets of London.

He claims that he did not want to go back to Sierra Leone because of an ebola epidemic. He applied to stay in the UK to the Home Office and was offered a sport scholarship by the University of East London. The Home Office has rejected his aplication as being "clearly unfounded." This means that if he will not return to Sierra Leone voluntarily he will have no right to appeal. The Home Office has the right to detain him forcibly unless he returns to Sierra Leone by next Monday.

"All applications for a visa or leave to remain are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. Mr Thoronka's claim did not meet the required thresholds within the immigration rules," a spokesman from the Home Office said.

The decision has devastated Thronka.

"What is going to happen to me if I am forced to return to Sierra Leone? There is no one to look after me and support me there and the training facilities are very bad. The president of the Athletics Association there said that many of the athletes are just training by themselves, on the tracks at schools which are not very good. I don’t think I will make it if I have to go back," he told the Guardian.

Mr Thronka's adoptive mother was a nurse who died from the Ebola while he was competing in Glasgow. Eight members his family also caught the Ebola virus.

He won the Sports Writers of Sierra Leone's best male athlete award in 2013. His personal best is 10.58 seconds for the 100m race.

Official figures show the West African outbreak of Ebola killed more than 11,000 out of the 28,000 people infected since the epidemic first emerged in December 2013 in Guinea, with Liberia the hardest hit.

TRTWorld and agencies