Parathlete George Wyndham says he is determined to secure medal success for Sierra Leone at the Islamic Solidarity Games – even if he will not be able to participate in his favoured event.
The 27-year-old, a table tennis specialist, was his country’s sole representative at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. But with no para table tennis on the agenda in Baku, Wyndham will instead compete in several para-athletic events: javelin, shot put and discus.
"I’ve been doing track and field for over 15 years, but this is just the second time I will be doing it for my country, after the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville," Wyndham explained.
He admitted that he had endured a "tough time" two years ago, against some stiff competition, but that he had learned from his mistakes.
"I went home and worked very hard to do what was necessary to be a champion one day. I’ve worked though my mistakes and now everything is okay. I’m here to win one of the medals!"
Wyndham acted as Sierra Leone’s flag bearer in Rio, and has been given the same honour in Baku. He described it as both a "big achievement" and a "big responsibility".
"When you are the flag bearer, the country expects a lot from you. Their hopes are on you. You have to do your best, fight hard, and raise the name of your country higher.”
Wyndham was left disabled after contracting polio as a boy, yet he has overcome adversity through sport and emerged as Sierra Leone’s most decorated table tennis player. Now he is hoping to make his country proud again in Azerbaijan.
"We are here to win, not to lose," he insisted. "We have great expectations to win and go home with one of the medals."
Wyndham also praised the warm welcome he has received in Baku, even if he confessed he hasn’t had much time to look around the city.
"I’m very excited to be part of the Islamic Games," he said. "I like Azerbaijan, everybody is very friendly. After the tournament I will try to look around, but now I’m focused on the tournament."