COLUMBUS (WCMH) — When athletes become Olympians, they almost immediately become local heroes thanks to their athletic achievements. But for Worthington native Maggie Barrie, she’s not the hero for a city, or a state, but an entire nation because of what she’s also doing off the track.
“I’m really honored to do this and this has been a huge dream of mine,” said Barrie. “You can’t understand what it’s going to be like to stand on that line in the Olympics.”
Running fast is nothing new for Maggie. She still holds records at Worthington Kilbourne High School and was an All-American at Ohio State. Now, she’s an Olympian, running the 400 meters for Sierra Leone.
“I’ve been there many times. It’s on the tip of West Africa. It’s very small. It’s a small country but it’s very beautiful. The culture. The people there are so lively,” said Barrie. “I always love hearing stories about my home country and being able to represent them on the international stage and just being able to show my culture is really important to me.”
Besides her immediate family, all of Maggie’s family still lives in Sierra Leone. Recently, Maggie traveled back to the country and received a hero’s welcome, fit for an Olympian.
“We don’t have a lot of athletes because are a very small country and we’ve also had a lot of war so we are trying to build ourselves up,” said Barrie. “That’s why they are really motivated about athletics. To show ourselves on the Olympic stage.”
And Maggie didn’t come empty-handed. She came with nearly 200 pairs of cleats and shoes, donated to her non-profit venture, “Shoes for Sierra Lone”. Each pair giving a young athlete the boost they need to follow their own Olympic dreams and be just like Maggie.
“Sierra Leone is an impoverished country. But there’s a lot of spirit. People really want to follow their dreams, so I just really want help young athletes have those basic supplies that they need,” said Barrie. “Being able to represent all these people. This is my legacy. So, I’m super excited. I feel great. I’m so inspired and I’m not going to let you guys down.