The seven Cameroonian Olympic hopefuls reported missing from the Athletes Village at the 2012 London Games are all young and inexperienced competitors.
Soccer player Drusille Ngako, swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue, and boxers Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomo started to disappear last month, CNN reported.
"What began as rumor has finally turned out to be true," games official David Ojong said in a statement, according to Reuters. The seven athletes "have disappeared from the Olympic Village."
None of the five boxers made it into the quarter-finals, while Edingue finished well back in the swimming heats. Ngako was kept off the soccer team’s final roster.
The seven are suspected to have fled the Olympic Village elsewhere in Europe because of economic reasons, Reuters reported. They weren't the first to go missing from these games — fifteen-year-old Ethiopian torchbearer Natnael Yemane also went on the run from his Nottingham hotel in June.
In fact, Deutsche Welle says a history of "defections" during the Games dates back almost 70 years, with the first occuring at the 1948 games, also held in London. Marie Provaznikova, who was president of the International Gymnastics Federation, refused to return to her nation — then-Czechoslovakia — because of a "lack of freedom," according to Deutsche Welle. Cuba has probably had the most Olympic defections, according to the same source.
Still, the reason for the Cameroonian athletes' disappearance is currently a matter of speculation. What else do we know about the missing athletes? Here's a closer look at who they are and the Oylmpic records they left behind:
She’s a 25-year-old goalkeeper who didn’t make the final 18-player roster. Cameroon lost its three round-robin games, scoring 1 goal and allowing 11 in games against Brazil, Great Britain and New Zealand. Ngako reportedly left the team on July 2 as it trained in Coventry, the Cameroon Tribune reported.
Edingue Ekane Paul
A 21-year-old swimmer who competed in the men’s 50-meter freestyle, Paul was next to walk away. He finished sixth in his heat in 27.87 seconds, or about seven seconds slower than the world record. According to the Tribune, all his belongings vanished along with him from the village.
Competing in the men’s light flyweight category, the 24-year-old boxer beat an athlete from Morocco in the first round before losing to Ireland’s Paddy Barnes. He also competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has been ranked as high as 20th in the world by AIBA.
Christian Donfack Adjoufack
A 28-year-old boxer in the light heavyweight category, Adjoufack lost in the first round to a Germany fighter and was eliminated. He finished third at the All Africa Games and the African boxing championships last year.
Yhyacinthe Abdon Mewoli
Mewoli, 26, is a lightweight boxer who fell in the first round to a Uzbekistan boxer. He was second at the 2011 African championships.
Blaise Yepmou Mendouo
Competing in the men’s super heavyweight category, Mendouo lost in the round of 16 to a Moroccan fighter.
In the light welterweight division, the 26-year-old Ambomo also lost in the first round.
Four of the five boxers now missing attended a dinner in the Cameroonian team’s honor on Sunday at a London hotel, the Cameroon Tribune said. Cameroon sent a total of 60 athletes to the London Olympics.
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