Liberia’s dominant right hand lawn tennis player, Eric Morris, 15, says he is going out to win a medal at the African Youth Games (AYG), which start in Algiers, Algeria, today, even though he acknowledged the additional pressure such a bold statement has placed upon him.
Morris, one of the country’s Under-15 long tennis players, said he did not have to prove anything to anyone except to satisfy an inner knowledge that he is capable of accomplishing it all for the sake of Liberia.
The Liberian kid has been involved in long tennis for over nine years, and won several local medals, but this is his debut mission to represent the country in international games.
“To be fair, I could say I am going out to have fun, but the other side of me says no, you are going out to win,’’ Morris said of his international expectations.
“Deep down in my heart, I would love a medal of any color (gold, silver or bronze), and that would be a huge success that will satisfy me,’’ he told this newspaper.
Morris’ inspiration grew after meeting the Chief Patron of Sports, President George Weah. He was one of the athletes who met the President along with officials of the Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) ahead of their trip to Algeria for the 3rd edition of AYG.
According to the Executive Mansion website, President Weah encouraged the team to ignite all efforts in raising the Liberian flag and to represent the nation as ambassadors who are serving on a duty for a national cause.
The President said the team should view their presence and participation in the pending tournament as a means to lift their country’s flag through sports and should ensure that Liberia achieves the purpose for their participation on the African Continent.
AYG is an international multi-sport event held to complement the current All-Africa Games. The first games were hosted in Rabat, Morocco. The international sport event was created by Lassana Palenfo, current director of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa. The idea arose in 2006, but the very first AYG was held in 2010, while the second edition was held in Botswana, 2010, with Egypt winning the highest number of medals.