Burkina Faso Paralympic Team say thank you to Brentwood
As they prepare to take part in their last Paralympic races today (Friday), the full story about the help given to the Burkina Faso handcycling team by the people of Brentwood has now emerged.
The two-strong team from West Africa had been training in Brentwood in preparation for their events this week – but it was only thanks to the generosity of local people that they were able to compete at all.
Liam Conlon had expected to just greet the delegation – including handcyclists Gasbeogo Laassane and Kadida Nikiema – when they arrived at Heathrow and point them on their way to their hotel.
However, the 24-year-old from Abridge, who had spent three months travelling around the impoverished country earlier this year, found that they had nowhere to stay or train and little hope of being able to compete.
He put the three male members of the delegation – including officials – up at his parents’ house and used family friends in Brentwood to help the two women stay with nuns at The Grange, Queen’s Road.
The team was also able to use the training circuit at Brentwood School through a friend of Liam’s parents, David Taylor, a master.
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Liam, who became the team’s official attach�, said: “My parents only thought it was going to be a few days, not three-and-a-half weeks, but the team are fantastic people. We really enjoyed having them.”
While in Brentwood the team also started looking for better equipment to give them a chance of competing.
Liam said: “Their equipment is so far behind everyone else, they were the only ones not to have a made-to- measure handbike.
“Kadida’s split time on Wednesday was putting her in third but she just lost out at the end. I’m confident that if they’d had better equipment she would have won a medal.”
Liam wants to raise funds so the team have better equipment in future.
Head of the team’s delegation, Florentine Ouedraogo, told the Recorder this week: “The cyclists are in high spirits.
“They’re going to fight until the end and give everything they have to represent the country.”
She added: “Brentwood is a beautiful town and the people are particularly kind.”