Liberia’s Gold Medalist Expresses Frustration

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After winning a gold medal at the 11th Zhengzhou China International Shaolin Wushu Festival in China, Liberia’s gold medalist Master Junior Pewee Russian has expressed frustration over the way in which Liberia’s Wushu Federation is being treated.

As guest on ELBC’s Super Sports program, Master Russian said he is disappointed that his federation is yet to receive financial support from the government of Liberia.

“Liberia would not have won this gold medal if the Chinese Embassy had not helped us,” Master Russian said.

Master Russian emphasized that the federation, like any other federation, should be given equal support and attention.

He added that if this was football, there would have been a special welcoming event set aside to welcome players, further stating that he has not received a call from an official of the Ministry of Youth and Sports despite winning Liberia’s first gold medal.

“I am a Liberian and have represented Liberia in several competitions and brought pride to this country. It makes me angry to be treated like this, but I know nobody is going to kill my dream,” Master Russian said.

The former taekwondo heavyweight, who returned from retirement in 2012, defeated five opponents to win the gold medal with 9.35 points for Liberia in the senior category at the 2016 Wushu Festival in China.

The gold medalist, however, expressed hope that his gold medal will pave the way for the government to focus its attention to other national federations and individual athletes.

Master Russian, who is vice president and technical director of the Liberia Wushu Federation, went along with a young athlete Amos Manneh Sawyer to participate in this year’s competition.

Making his international debut, Young Sawyer managed to win a bronze medal in the junior category.

“He was motivated after he witnessed me winning the gold medal and won a bronze medal due to lack of experience,” Master Russian said.

Master Russian, who is also the coach for the Liberia Wushu Federation, disclosed that the federation will November 11 embark on an awareness campaign at the state-run University of Liberia.

The awareness campaign, according to Coach Russian, is aimed at educating would-be Wushu athletes across Liberia and will be sponsored by the Chinese Ambassador accredited to Liberia.

“After the campaign, if we get the number of members we want, then we will begin to host Wushu competitions in high schools,” the Wushu Coach said.

“It was not being the best athlete in this competition that gave me this gold, but rather because of being humble and passionately driven, God picked me up,” Russian said.

There are 30 athletes currently being trained by the Wushu Federation of Liberia.

About 2,227 athletes from 67 countries across the world took part in this year’s event.

The Zhengzhou China International Shaolin Wushu Festival, which was held on October 16-20, is an annual event that brings together hundreds of martial artists from across the world to compete in activities, including Wushu performances and Chinese Martial Arts.

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