TEENAGE sprint star Morro Bajo is to return to Edinburgh tomorrow, just in time to compete in the East District Championships at Meadowbank, where he is tipped for victory.
The 15-year-old athlete has been hailed as a better natural runner than Olympic gold medal winner Allan Wells, but there were fears he might not be able to resume his running career in the Capital after returning to his native Gambia.
The former Portobello resident was running with Edinburgh Athletic Club at Meadowbank Stadium until December, when he was asked to leave Drummond Community High School for repeated misbehaviour and was sent to live with his extended family in Gambia.
However, his coach Bill Walker – who coached Wells to victory at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 – persuaded his family to let him return, and then appealed in the Evening News for donations to help meet his air fare.
Now, after a flood of donations, Morro is set to land in the Capital on Tuesday with his uncle, just four days before the district championships begin.
Mr Walker said he was delighted that the teenager would be back and able to take part in the 100m and 200m events. “It’s great news,” he said.
“I think he’ll enjoy it, he’ll be able to take part in the districts, and he should win. I think if he works hard he’ll stay here, and I think he’s got a good chance of making the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.”
Morro’s stepmother, Becky Grangeret, who lives in Portobello, said: “He was absolutely obsessed about being back for the districts, he was so excited he was thinking it was the end of the world if he didn’t get back for it, like it was the Olympics or something.”
Morro is ranked fifth in Britain among under-16s and broke the Scottish 100m record for the age group when he was 14.
His current personal best for the 100m is 10.94 seconds, compared with Wells’ best of 10.11 seconds.
The teenager moved to Edinburgh almost six years ago from Gambia, which means he would be eligible to represent Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Nigel Holl, the chief executive of scottishathletics, wrote to members of the Bajo family and the authorities in Gambia and urged them to let him come back to Edinburgh so he could develop his sporting ability.
A spokesman for scottish-athletics, the governing body of the sport in Scotland, said: “There is no doubt that Morro Bajo has fantastic potential as an athlete. He proved that last summer with some terrific runs which took him into the Scottish age-group record books.
“We believe that potential could one day see him compete at international level. To develop that talent he needs the benefit of expert coaching and guidance and it is good to know he is coming back to Scotland. That should put him in a position to get back on the track on a regular basis and really work on his development.”