Liberia will have to wait till 2024 to compete for its first-ever Olympic medal after coming close at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Joseph Fahnbulleh made history on the track on Tuesday, August 3, by becoming the first-ever Liberian athlete to qualify for a final in the men’s 200m.
In Wednesday’s final, Fahnbulleh, who was the only African in the race, missed out on becoming the first African to win a medal in the men’s 200m event for the first time since 1996.
Frankie Fredericks, a former athlete of Namibia, remains the first and only African athlete to win a medal in the men’s 200m after clinching back-to-back silver in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
Fahnbulleh finished in the fifth position with a scorching time of 19.98 seconds, breaking his own national record of 19.99 set in the semifinals.
Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse finally came off the shadow of world record holder Usain Bolt by winning his first gold medal at the Olympics. De Grasse crossed the line in a new personal best and national record of 19.62 seconds, followed by American duo Kenny Bednarek (19.68 sec.) and Noah Lyles, who won bronze in 19.74 sec.
It became one of the proud and historical moments for Fahnbulleh and Liberians after the 19-year-old accomplished the milestone of reaching the final.
Despite missing out on a medal on Wednesday, Fahnbulleh and his teammates’ participation at the 2020 Games have been celebrated with congratulatory messages pouring.
In a post-race interview with Go Team Liberia, Fahnbulleh thanked Liberians for the support and said that he did his best and will do even better next year at the World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA.
According to Go Team Liberia, the 19-year-old’s overall message to young Liberians and other African youths is to work hard, remain dedicated, and they can be anything they want to be. “There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing your hard work actually pay off in the long run,” he told Go Team Liberia.
At the moment, Fahnbulleh and four of his teammates are scheduled to represent Liberia at the 2022 World Games.
They include sprinters Emmanuel Matadi, and Akeem Sirleaf, hurdlers Wellington Zaza, and Ebony Morrison.
Fahnbulleh, in his interview, also emphasized the need for more support and attention to be given to track and field in order to have more athletes representing Liberia at global competitions.