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£23k raised for homeless Sierra Leone athlete Jimmy Thoronka

EBOLA FEARS: Jimmy Thoronka does not want to go back to his Sierra Leon home

THOUSANDS OF pounds has been raised for a homeless Sierra Leonean athlete who is facing deportation after he failed to return home to Africa after the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year.

In the last three days, fans and well wishers have donated £23,063 to sprinter Jimmy Thoronka, who is seeking asylum to stay in the UK.

Thoronka, 20, was his country's top 100m runner but did not return home to Africa after the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year amid Ebola fears.

He had been sleeping rough on the streets of London, and is now facing deportation after being arrested on Friday (Mar 6).

"Some days I get no food at all. I wash in public toilets and sleep in the park," he told The Guardian.

The Met Police said he was arrested for immigration offences. He has now been released.

Thoronka arrived in Glasgow with his teammates in July 2014, just as the Ebola outbreak in his home country was declared a public health emergency.

The death toll from the virus in Sierra Leone is now more than 3,500.

Thoronka said that deadly virus had killed his immediate family, back in Sierra Leone, and he knew he could now make it there alone.

So after the Commonwealth Games he stayed with friends in Leicester before going to London.

Thoronka said: “I was hoping to win a medal for my country. But during the Games I got the terrible news that my uncle had died, probably from Ebola.

"I couldn’t stop crying. It was difficult to continue with competing but I tried to carry on.”

Thoronka competed in one 4x100m relay at the games, but failed to win any medals. He was making times of 10.58 seconds for the 100m sprint before the competition.

His visa ran out last year and he had not been working illegally, nor claiming benefits or housing and he said he understood the legal implications of remaining in the UK after his visa had expired.

An appeal to support the athlete, was started by Cambridge student Richard Dent on Friday afternoon, and made £12,000 in just over 24 hours.

Dent, who has never met the runner, said he was "very affected" by his case and wanted to do something to help.

On the GoFundMe page he set up, Dent said: "For the record, I want this fund to support Jimmy regardless of the legal outcome. These funds are for Jimmy if he stays or if he is deported."

Dent added: "He wants to continue his career in athletics - let's support his dream!"

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