Sierra Leone sprinter Jimmy Thoronka 'loses bid to stay in UK'


One of Sierra Leone's best sprinters has lost his bid to stay in the UK, it has been reported.

Jimmy Thoronka went missing after competing in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year when Ebola swept through his West African homeland.

The 21-year-old was found sleeping rough in London and was arrested in March by immigration officers for overstaying his visa.

He applied for leave to stay in the UK after being offered a sporting scholarship from a London university.

Despite widespread support, including a petition with more than 25,000 signatures, his appeal was rejected.

Thoronka was told he cannot appeal against the decision unless he leaves the UK, according to reports.

His case was allegedly turned down by the Home Office on the grounds it was "clearly unfounded".

"All applications for a visa or leave to remain are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules," a spokesman told the Guardian.

"Mr Thoronka's claim did not meet the required thresholds within the immigration rules."

Thoronka, whose entire family died in the Ebola outbreak, said he was devastated by the decision.

He told the Guardian: "What is going to happen to me if I am forced to return to Sierra Leone?

"There is no one to look after me and support me there and the training facilities are very bad.

"I don't think I will make it if I have to go back."

The University of East London reportedly said it would offer him a place on a foundation degree course if he was granted a visa to stay in the UK.