Denied ticket over COVID, Guinean Olympian clings to dream

Jul 28, 2021, 11:34 PM | Updated: Jul 29, 2021, 12:42 am
Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara poses for a portrait at the end of her morning training ses...

Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara poses for a portrait at the end of her morning training session at the Ostia's Olympic training center, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Fatoumata Yarie Camara is used to being thrown to the ground and getting up again, getting back into the fight. She’s dedicated her life to wrestling, a sport that breeds tenacity. On the mat, she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, the only athlete from Guinea to do so. Off the mat, she has battled the beliefs of her culture and family that women don’t belong in sports.

Camara endured delays as the pandemic threatened the Games. Then, three days before the rescheduled opening ceremony, her dream of standing alongside the world’s best athletes teetered on a plane ticket — one she couldn’t afford and government officials hadn’t given her. Saying they wanted to keep Guinea’s athletes safe from COVID-19, the West African country withdrew from the Olympics entirely.

Camara and others were skeptical of officials’ reasoning and believe Guinea mismanaged its planning for the Games. She gives the nation hope, officials tell her, but they’ve never given her any.

At home, the 25-year-old clutched her medals in her hands — from regional competitions, the African Games, and her Olympic qualifying event — and cried.

It was the one time Camara felt she couldn’t get back up and fight.

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This story is part of a yearlong series on how the pandemic is impacting women in Africa, most acutely in the least developed countries. AP’s series is funded by the European Journalism Centre’s European Development Journalism Grants program, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. AP is responsible for all content.

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In the neighborhood of Hamdallaye, one of the most populous and poorest areas of the capital city, Conakry, few dare to dream of leaving. Camara’s family lives shoulder-to-shoulder with neighbors. Streets are strewn with garbage. Children play in the mud.

Camara sleeps on a mattress on the floor. Her medals hang from a nail on the wall, a constant reminder of her Olympic dream.

At age 14, Camara was playing soccer — then her favorite sport — when she caught the eye of a soldier who wrestled. He was impressed with her strategy, her moves, her physique. “You have talent,” he told her, and asked if she’d ever considered wrestling. She’d never heard of it. He described the combat sport, and visited her family to earn their support.

At her very first competition, Camara won a gold medal. “It was there that I started to love wrestling,” she said.

Back then, Camara’s mother, Kadiatou Soumah, supported her, despite resistance in the community and their own family. Sports aren’t meant for girls, they said. But Soumah backed her daughter with what little funds the family had. Soumah’s husband stopped working when Camara was 3. Soumah had to support him, too, and Camara’s brother and sister.

It’s rare for a West African woman like Soumah to be the family’s sole breadwinner. Employment isn’t easy for the 13 million residents of Guinea, a largely Muslim country where many live in poverty despite the country’s rich reserve of bauxite, the base material for aluminum, and mines for gold and diamonds. The health care system is still recovering from the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea and neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Soumah saw wrestling as a lifeline, a means to change the family’s life. Camara won more medals. She gave up school.

Soumah sold candy and eggs out of a roadside kiosk and went door-to-door in better-off neighborhoods offering to wash clothes, clean homes and prepare meals. After working all day, she then cooked for her own family.

She even managed to buy Camara small presents to encourage her wins. Soumah was her daughter’s manager and cheerleader. She gave her pocket money for traveling to competitions and picked her up in taxis at the airport, often late at night.

But when Camara’s victories never clinched any earnings, Soumah’s support waned.

“It only comes with medals,” Soumah said. “Never with money. My daughter has nothing.”

As she grew older, Camara was expected to help support the family, even if it meant giving up wrestling. Instead, she continued competing and was often away training, one less person to provide.

She moved to Morocco to train via a grant from United World Wrestling, the international governing body. But when the pandemic hit, Camara and her training partners were locked down. They weren’t allowed to wrestle for 10 months, the body-on-body contact deemed too high-risk.

Camara used a wrestling term to describe what happened. “COVID blocked us,” she said.

She tried jogging in her room for exercise but gained weight. Inactivity is the enemy of world-class athletes, and Camara feared she wouldn’t be able to stay under the required weight for her 57-kilogram freestyle event.

Morocco ultimately asked the wrestlers to leave because of the virus. Camara went home, to a country without proper wrestling facilities.

Fearing the pandemic and a lack of activity, coach Vincent Aka — a former Olympian himself — moved Camara and three other West African wrestlers to his native Ivory Coast.

“Fatoumata’s situation is very special because she is more talented,” Aka said.

In April, Camara beat wrestlers from Egypt, Guam and Algeria to make the final of the African and Oceania qualifying tournament in Tunisia. She lost, but the silver medal was good enough — she’d officially qualified for the Olympics. She was on top of the world.

Aka managed to secure money for a two-week summer training camp in Italy. Camara wrestled in a competition in Sardinia — her first in three months — then went to Rome.

Camara knew where she needed improvement: “I am a bit weak on attack,” she said, working with a partner at a judo and karate center. She ducked her head under his arm and into his chest, then heaved him up on her back, flipped him over and slammed him down onto the mat. He grunted, but she wasn’t happy; she practiced the move again.

She wore a T-shirt, tight pants rolled up above her ankles and no shoes — saving her best wrestling uniform for Tokyo. She lived in a dormitory, in a cubicle room similar to Olympic Village accommodations. For her, it was luxurious living.

Without the camp, she’d have been living on about $4 a day, as the Guinea Olympic committee gave her $500 to prepare after she qualified — and no plane ticket.

“If I were in another country, maybe my life would change a bit,” Camara said. “You are bringing honor to your country. The country hopefully pays you back. If the country does not, if they do nothing for their athletes, then how will others have the courage to come train like you? Because it requires a lot of sacrifice.”

Before she left Rome, she had one crucial pre-Olympic task on her list. Vaccinations are encouraged for these Games, but Camara knew Guinea had no plans for her; authorities there have warned of low supply as they fear a third wave across the region.

So she went to an Italian hospital where shots were being given to homeless people, immigrants without documents and others without health care access. She joined the queue and got her jab. Aka and UWW treated her and her training partners to a pizza at an outdoor restaurant at the trip’s end.

Camara then returned to Guinea; she was big news in her country as the Games neared.

In the muddy streets of her neighborhood, young girls approached her — strong, muscular ones who want to be athletes like her.

“There are girls who are training every day,” Camara said, “who come to me and ask me how I got to become a wrestler. … If one has a bit of support and means, I know that they could be like me and like other girls who are champions today in other countries.”

But she fears they will also feel unsupported by Guinean leaders, who praised her upon her return home.

“Fatoumata Yarie Camara carries the hope of the entire Guinean nation. She is the hope of a whole people,” said Ben Daouda Nansoko, secretary general of Guinea’s Olympic committee. “This is the career of this girl that shines.”

Yet, days before the Games, the budget for the trip hadn’t been approved. And she still had no plane ticket.

Soumah grew tired of empty promises and no longer believed Camara should go to the Olympics. After officials visited their home to change Soumah’s mind, she relented. But she remained skeptical of vows to pay bonuses and reimbursement when Camara returned.

At night, Camara prayed: “Please make it easier for me.”

She once believed she would carry Guinea’s flag at the opening ceremony as teams marched into the Olympic stadium. Guinea has four additional athletes listed to compete who didn’t qualify but instead were given places through a program that helps underrepresented nations.

Camara is world-ranked and thought she would certainly be the flag-bearer — the focus of the world’s cameras, if just for a few seconds. But Guinean officials told her she would fly to Tokyo the week after the ceremony, with the country’s flag carried instead by a Japanese volunteer.

Camara told herself it was just a crack in her dream. She’d still get to compete.

Or would she? Confusion reigned over the next several days, with the government announcing it would withdraw the entire team due to “the resurgence of COVID-19 variants.” But reports theorized that the country simply hadn’t set aside funds for the delegation.

Camara grieved for her Games, but ultimately accepted that she wouldn’t make the trip.

“The Olympics have always been a dream,” she said. “But this is God who controls all. I must just keep the courage, like always.”

The news of the country’s withdrawal caused an uproar — nationally and beyond Guinean borders. The government reversed its decision a day after its announcement and said athletes would indeed compete. Officials said they’d received guarantees from health authorities that put their coronavirus worries at ease.

Camara and others remained skeptical that COVID-19 was ever the issue. But it didn’t matter — once again, she was headed to the Olympics.

Coach Aka and United World Wrestling were ready to pay for Camara’s flight, in case Guinean officials didn’t follow through. But in the end, they did. On the day of the opening ceremony, Camara boarded an airplane. Gripping her seat, she smiled for a photograph.

It was too late to carry her nation’s flag. And maybe her mother still disapproved.

But the flight was confirmed. She had a 48-hour trip ahead of her. And on Wednesday, Camara — ranked eighth in the world in her class — will compete in the Olympic Games.

She and Aka took photos of her ticket.

It has her name: Fatoumata Camara. Destination: Tokyo.

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Imray reported from Tokyo. Thomas reported from Rome. Carley Petesch contributed from Dakar, Senegal.

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More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Follow AP’s multiformat Africa news on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

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See the full series on how the pandemic is affecting women in Africa: https://apnews.com/hub/women-the-eyes-of-africa

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              In this image made from a video, Guinean freestyle wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, foreground, arrives with a delegation of athletes, at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, Sunday, July 25, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Alessandro Libri)
            
              In this handout photo, Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara is photographed on the plane taking her to Tokyo from Conakry, Guinea, Friday July 23, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (via AP)
            
              Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara waits to know of she will go or not to the Tokyo Olympics at her home,  in Conakry, Guinea, Wednesday July 21, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah)
            
              Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara waits to know of she will go or not to the Tokyo Olympics at her house in Conakry, Guinea, Wednesday July 21, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah)
            
              Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara holds past credentials and medals at her house in Conakry, Guinea, Monday July 19, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah)
            
              Freestyle wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, of Guinea, waits to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, Saturday, July 3, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
            
              Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara walks with her mother near her house in Conakry, Guinea, Monday July 19, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah)
            
              Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara poses for a portrait at the end of her morning training session at the Ostia's Olympic training center, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, right, holding past credentials and medals, is greeted at her house in Conakry, Guinea, Monday July 19, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara poses for a portrait before the start of her afternoon training session in Ostia, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara is welcomed by family members as she arrives at her house in Conakry, Guinea, Monday July 19, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara adjusts her hair in her room of the Ostia's Olympic training center, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara poses as she sits in the restaurant of the Ostia's Olympic training center, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Freestyle wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, of Guinea, waits to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, Saturday, July 3, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, left competes with Italian athlete Morena De Vita during her morning training session at the Ostia's Olympic training center, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021.  A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, foreground, prays at the mosque in Conakry, Guinea, Tuesday July 20, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah) Freestyle wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, of Guinea, walks in Rome, Italy, where she is training Saturday, July 3, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) Women wash clothes at the house of Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara in Conakry, Guinea, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, right, gets ready to go to pray at the mosque in Conakry, Guinea, Tuesday July 20, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara adjusts her hair during an afternoon training session in Ostia, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. Coach Vincent Aka _ a former Olympian himself, managed to secure money for a two-week June training camp in Italy. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, warms up during an afternoon training session in Ostia, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. Coach Vincent Aka _ a former Olympian himself, managed to secure money for a two-week June training camp in Italy.  A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Freestyle wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, of Guinea,foreground, pictured prior to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, Saturday, July 3, 2021. In background, from left, United World Wrestling Development Officer Vincent Aka, of Ivory Coast, coach Alexis Rodriguez, of Cuba, and wrestlers Diamantino Fafe' and Augusto Midana, both from Guinea Bissau. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, right, competes with Italian athlete Morena De Vita during her morning training session at the Ostia's Olympic training center, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Freestyle wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, of Guinea, receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, Saturday, July 3, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara runs at the end of her morning training session at the Ostia's Olympic training center in Ostia, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021. Coach Vincent Aka _ a former Olympian himself, managed to secure money for a two-week June training camp in Italy. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, foreground, prays at the mosque in Conakry, Guinea, Tuesday July 20, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara combs her hair at her house in Conakry, Guinea, Wednesday July 21, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, left, compete with Wilfredo Garcia, trainer of the Italian female wrestling team during an afternoon training session in Ostia, near Rome, Monday, July 5, 2021.  A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Freestyle wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, of Guinea, waits to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, Saturday, July 3, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision.  (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, foreground, fills out immigration forms at the airport as she departs for Tokyo in Conakry, Guinea, Friday July 23, 2021. A West African wrestler's dream of competing in the Olympics has come down to a plane ticket. Fatoumata Yarie Camara is the only Guinean athlete to qualify for these Games. She was ready for Tokyo, but confusion over travel reigned for weeks. The 25-year-old and her family can't afford it. Guinean officials promised a ticket, but at the last minute announced a withdrawal from the Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. Under international pressure, Guinea reversed its decision. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah)

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A fire that broke out at an airport in Russia’s southern Kursk region that borders Ukraine was the result of a drone attack, the regional governor said Tuesday, a day after Moscow blamed Kyiv for drone strikes on two air bases deep inside Russia and launched a new wave of missile […]
5 hours ago
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk on the South Lawn of the White House in Washingt...
Associated Press

White House invites in state lawmakers before 2023 sessions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is playing host to roughly 50 Democratic state lawmakers from 31 states this week as legislatures prepare for their upcoming sessions, aiming to talk over strategy on top issues like climate change, gun violence, abortion rights and voting rights. Those expected to attend the meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday […]
5 hours ago
FILE - Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks to supporters as he attends a campaign rally on Monday, ...
Associated Press

Youngkin’s early shine faces test as he eyes White House bid

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Glenn Youngkin swept into office as a Republican sensation with a fresh formula for victory as the GOP contemplated its future beyond Donald Trump. But one year after Youngkin became the first Republican in more than a decade to win the Virginia governorship, some in his party believe the shine of […]
5 hours ago

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Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
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Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
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SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Denied ticket over COVID, Guinean Olympian clings to dream