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Teamwork across continents as Guinean wrestler fulfills Olympic dream

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)

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The multinational, multiformat team of Gerald Imray, Trisha Thomas, Boubacar Diallo, Youssouf Bah, Alessandra Tarantino, Ricardo DeLuca, Fulvio Paolocci, Andy Drake, Carley Petesch, Jerome Delay, Yesica Fisch, Natalie Castañeda and Janelle Cogan collaborated across departments and continents to produce the compelling and exclusive story of one young African woman’s dream to compete in the Olympics.

The AP team had spent weeks following Guinean wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, the only athlete from Guinea to qualify for the Olympics. Camara received only $500 from the government for training but she managed to find a way to train in Rome, where an AP team got behind-the-scenes access while she worked out, got vaccinated, ate pizza and toured the city.

When Camara returned to Guinea, AP spent time with her and her family in one of the capital’s poorest neighborhoods and learned about the sacrifices she and her family had made so she could be an Olympian. But days before the opening ceremony, Guinea withdrew from the Olympics and then — after pressure from the IOC and media coverage from the AP and others — changed its mind.

AP was with her through every development, including her arrival, finally, in Tokyo — and this week as she competed on the Olympic stage. The coordinated effort resulted in a story that scored heavily with readers and viewers.
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