NEWS

Olympic hopeful faces citizenship hurdle

05/09/2012 09:36 EDT | Updated 07/09/2012 05:12 EDT

An Ottawa track-and-field athlete hoping to compete for Canada in the 2012 Summer Olympics has to leap over more than the usual number of hurdles to reach his goal this summer.

Sékou Kaba, 21, is a top-ranking hurdler who is looking to participate in the 110-metre hurdles event in London, England this summer. The Summer games run from July 27 to August 12.

The University of Ottawa student is the top point-scoring hurdler in Canadian university sports but he is still seeking his Canadian citizenship, which prevents him from competing in competition finals.

As a Canadian resident, he can compete in university events but is moved to the second-tier finals due to his lack of a citizenship.

Needs citizenship by end of June

He would also be ineligible for the Canadian Olympic trials in track and field, which go in Calgary, if he does not obtain his citizenship by the end of June.

The lack of top-tier finals makes competitions almost worthless, according to Kaba.

"It is frustrating knowing that I am among the best in the country but I can't compete to the best of my capabilities because I'm being limited," he told the CBC's Jeanne Armstrong.

Kaba was born in the West African country of Guinea and moved to the United States when he was 14, before coming to Canada two years later.

Test could be 'soon'

He submitted his citizenship application in 2011 but he has yet to hear back. In an email to CBC News, officials from Citizenship and Immigration Canada said they hope to schedule a citizenship test for Kaba "soon".

If he passes the test, he would be a Canadian citizen by June 30.

"Our Conservative Government values the contribution athletes such as Mr. Kaba make to the country and we look forward to him becoming a Canadian citizen," the email read.

Kaba and his coach have questioned whether the young athlete's hard work and preparation would be all for naught.

But it seems like the athlete should have the chance to gain his citizenship in time.

"Right now it is the waiting game we're playing," Kaba said, "Best I can do is just stay patient and hope for better times I guess."

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