TEENAGE sprint star Morro Bajo today thanked Evening News readers for helping him get back to the Capital and pledged to achieve his goal of competing in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The 15-year-old returned this week from five months in Gambia where he was living with his extended family.
The Portobello resident took part in the East District Championships at Meadowbank on Saturday, and Morro is confident he can improve his personal best for both the 100m and 200m events during the next year as he aims to make the Commonwealth Games squad.
The sprinter has been hailed as a better natural runner than Olympic champion Allan Wells, but there had been fears that he might not be able to resume his running career in the city after returning to his native Gambia.
Morro was running with Edinburgh Athletic Club until December, when he was asked to leave Drummond Community High School for repeated misbehaviour and sent back to his homeland.
But the teenager said the trip had helped to “sort my head out” and focus his efforts on improving his track performance and returning to school.
Morro recently won both the 100m and 200m races at the Gambia School Championships for the under-16 events, which included setting a new championship record for the 100m.
He said: “I’ve been training hard and going to school. I was running on the beach every day and doing a lot of speed work with my school coach.
“My aim is to break some Scottish records now that I’m back. I want to get my 100m personal best down from 10.94 seconds to 10.8 seconds, and my 200m time down from 22.20 to 21.9 seconds. That will be my aims over the next year.
“I’ve spoken to my coaches since I’ve been back and they are very happy and confident.
“My main aim is still to compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.”
His coach, Bill Walker, who coached Wells to victory at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, along with fellow coach Charlie Affleck, persuaded Morro’s family to let him return from Gambia, then appealed in the News for donations to meet his air fare.
Mr Walker has described the teenager as one of the best young runners he has ever seen, with more natural talent than Wells himself.
Morro said he was honoured that a flood of donations had come in. He added: “I want to thank everyone. It was very nice of people to make donations to help pay for my return home. I know people are expecting good things from me, but I like having that pressure. It’s a good feeling.”
Morro is ranked fifth in Britain among under-16s and broke the Scottish 100m record for the age group when he was 14.
The teenager moved to Edinburgh almost six years ago, meaning he would be eligible to represent Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Morro’s stepmother, Becky Grangeret, who lives in Portobello, said: “It’s great to have him back. He seems to be much happier now. I think he’s grown up a lot in short space of time.
“He’s now totally determined and 100 per cent focused.
“Morro also wants to get back into education. He understands that he has to get his schooling sorted out as well as continuing with his running.”