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Famous and coach to travel to Finland after funding plea

Overwhelming support: Sakari Famous the Bermuda high jumper, feared she would have to withdraw from the World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Finland next month because there was no funds available for her coach Rohaan Simons(Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Sakari Famous will be able to travel with her coach Rohaan Simons to the World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Tampere, Finland, next month after an article in The Royal Gazette prompted a quick response from the corporate community.

With more than $3,000 required by the weekend to cover Simons’s travel and accommodation expenses, it looked doubtful whether he would be accompanying Famous to the event.

However, two generous local companies immediately stepped forward to foot the bill, having read about Famous’s plight in Wednesday’s newspaper.

Sabrina Famous, the mother of Bermuda’s top female high jumper, said she is overwhelmed by the financial support from corporate community.

“We’re overwhelmed by the immediate support,” she said. “We just didn’t expect that anyone would respond so quickly with such generosity. We did get a call first thing this morning.

“The huge corporate donation meant that we could all now focus on continuing preparations for the event. Words cannot express how grateful we really are.”

Famous is having her expenses covered by the International Association of Athletics Federations, but the Bermuda National Athletics Association were hard-pressed to find money for Simons’s travel and accommodation.

Donna Raynor, the BNAA president, expressed relief that Simons would be able to attend the Championships, which run from July 10 to 15. She believes Famous’s glowing reputation helped generate the positive and immediate response.

“People have seen Sakari and know the effort that she has put in,” Raynor said. “She has been a Carifta medal-winner every year that she has been. This is not a reflection of the BNAA but a reflection of Sakari.

“We tried [to get the funding] but didn’t get the response. I would put all this on Sakari and won’t take any credit at all.

“She works very hard, her mom supports her 100 per cent and has been involved in Sakari’s career from the beginning. Sakari’s very polished, well-rounded and when she gets to university I hope she stays that way.”

Raynor admits she did not sleep well two nights ago, wondering whether funding would come through for the 18-year-old.

Famous, who has recently graduated from the Berkeley Institute and will attend the University of Georgia in the autumn, would have likely withdrawn from the event rather than travel alone.

“As a former athlete we’ve had those disappointments but as an administrator you hate to put an athlete through that,” Raynor added.

“I’m just glad it has ended as it did. I thank her mom for putting in that effort.”

The money raised will be handed to the BNAA who will transfer it towards Simons’s travel and accommodation.

“Once we get the funds we will make all the arrangements,” Raynor said. “I can sleep tonight!”