Tokyo, August 4— Joseph Fahnbulleh came into the men’s 200m Olympic finals with the fourth fastest time from the semifinals. Just a fraction of a second separated him from the top three. However, today, the 19–year–old sprinter left it all on the track and finished fifth in 19.98 seconds, a slightly faster time than yesterday. His current time replaces the national record and puts Liberia among the men’s 200 meters’ top five.

Canada’s Andre de Grasse took gold, while USA’s Kenneth Bednarek and Noah Lyles captured silver and bronze respectively. Still, Liberians remain overjoyed. Fahnbulleh executed a strong race, after a long and successful athletics season.

“I hear your prayers. I hear your cheers,” Fahnbulleh said to the Liberian people. “I’m not physically there, but I hear them. You guys push me to be my best. The support, I can’t get enough.”

Fahnbulleh added that he did his best and next year he will do even better, referring to the 2022 World Athletics Championship. Overall, his message to young Liberians and other African youth is to work hard, remain dedicated, and they can be anything they want to be. “There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing your hard work actually pay off in the long run,” he told Go Team Liberia.

Additionally, he gave a shout out to his current and future national teammates who are headed to the World Championship in Eugene, Oregon. At the moment, sprinter Emmanuel Matadi, sprinter Akeem Sirleaf, hurdler Wellington Zaza, and hurdler Ebony Morrison are scheduled to represent Liberia. Traditionally, football is king in Liberia and most African countries, but Fahnbulleh hopes that track and field will begin to have more prominence.

Listen to his full post-race interview below.