A FAMILIAR face will be offering the Grenadian Olympic team a warm welcome when they arrive on Wearside next month.
Student Fayola Moore had planned to head back home to Grenada after completing her modern languages degree at the University of Sunderland, but instead the 29-year-old has delayed the trip to welcome her nation’s top athletes on campus.
The University was selected as first choice for the team’s training base in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games after a delegation visited the region last year.
Fayola has been given the special honour of supporting the athletes when they arrive, acting as a liaison officer. She will support university staff as they help the team familiarise themselves with the city and university, answer any questions they have and accompany them on any planned visits in the region.
The opportunity is also a chance to meet up with some familiar faces from back home: Mr Royston Le Hee, president of the Grenadian national Olympics Committee, is a member of Fayola’s church in her hometown Calivigny, one of the team trainers is her High School coach and her twin sister Adanna has come into contact with some of the athletes through her role as an award-winning karate instructor.
Fayola said: “I am really looking forward to the team’s arrival. It’s amazing that they are going to be here in Sunderland, I just couldn’t leave the university without meeting up with them.
“It’s a great honour to help support the university and the interaction with the athletes will be incredibly exciting. I also think it’s nice that they have someone they’re familiar with, who knows the city and can make that connection.”
Fayola says she’s not surprised by the Grenadian team’s entry into London 2012, given the importance of sport among schools in her country.
“Sport is part of the culture in Grenada,” explained Fayola. “In school there is always athletics, running and netball; all kids have to go through the heats. It’s part of the school programme and part of our lives.”
So how does she rate the Grenadian team’s chances of clinching any medals at London 2012?
“I would love to see some medals and think we have a good chance, the team is more than capable. I really would love to see Rondell Bartholomew come up a little bit more, and of course there’s Kirani!
“Even if they don’t win, it’s an experience for them. It’s also an inspiration for any young boys and girls watching.
Sadly Fayola will not be able to attend the actual games themselves, as she’ll be flying back home, but says she will definitely be glued to her TV set.
Ivan Whitfield, Director of Sport at the University, said: “I am delighted that Fayola is playing a key role in supporting the Grenadian Olympic team when they arrive in Sunderland.
“She is a wonderful ambassador for the university and the city of Sunderland, and I’m sure she will make the team feel very welcome on campus.”
Fayola came to study in Sunderland after Adanna graduated from the university with a degree in psychology and computing and praised the facilities and the lecturers.
She also wanted to study in the country where both her parents graduated. Her mother trained as a midwife and her father is an economist, who now works on projects with the United Nations (UN).
And it’s the UN where Fayola is considering applying for work now her degree is finished.
She said: “I’d like to work in Haiti and help with the rebuilding of communities there since the earthquake, putting my language degree to good use. I specialised in French and Spanish. In the longer term I’d like to work in tourism and leisure.”
She added: “Thanks to my time in Sunderland I now have so much more confidence in my ability. Since joining the university I am absolutely a different person to the girl who came here.
“I am coming out of this a much more positive and stronger person. I have met a lot of new friends and feel I have a new family, inside and outside of the university.”