Funds pour in bring sprinter home from Gambia

Sprinter Morro Bajo flies the flag for Scotland
Sprinter Morro Bajo flies the flag for Scotland
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THERE seemed little standing in his way of starring for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games – apart from the small matter of 3000 miles.

But young sprinter Morro Bajo’s dream is one step closer to reality after a fundraising effort to bring him back to Edinburgh from Gambia.

As the Evening News revealed last week, the 15-year-old, who is ranked fifth in Britain among under-16s and broke the Scottish 100m record for the age group when he was 14, left the Capital last year to return to live with family after being expelled from Drummond High School.

His coaches are convinced he will set the 2014 Games on fire, however, and after he pledged his allegiance to Scotland began efforts to bring him back to continue his training.

Now Bill Walker, who coached Allan Wells to Olympic gold in Moscow in 1980, says he has received enough offers of cash to make it happen.

It may have happened just in time too as Morro is being lauded in Gambia for his athletic prowess. He has been asked to run for the Gambian national team, though he says he would rather run for Scotland and Great Britain.

Mr Walker said: “I think I’ve got enough money now. I’ve got £100 from a grant I got for helping young athletes, and I’ve had lots of offers and calls.

“One of them was one of my ex-club athletes, Jimmy Learmonth. He was the first person who phoned me and said ‘If you want some help . . .’

“One of the old officials from Scottish Athletics, who used to train at Murrayfield, has offered to help. Two kids who I train, their mum phoned and said they wanted to do a sponsored walk and donate the money.”

Mr Walker said that Morro is one of the most talented natural athletes he has ever seen.

At 15, Morro’s 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 the Gambia, which means he would be eligible to represent Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

He showed enormous promise while training with Edinburgh Athletic Club at Murrayfield, but had a troubled school life and was expelled. He then moved from Portobello to stay with family in Gambia, but Mr Walker wrote to the family begging them to give him another chance to prove himself in Edinburgh.

After also winning the backing of Scottish Athletics, Morro’s family agreed to let him come back, if funds could be raised for the air fare.

Mr Walker hopes to get Morro back in time to compete in the East District championships on May 12 and 13.