Written by: Robert Dennis, III (1996 Liberia Olympic Team)

Our guest contributor Robert Dennis, III currently acts as the treasurer for the Liberia Olympian Association. Below Dennis recaps one of the many strides Liberian Olympians took in 2023. He also shares their inspiration for the future.

I had the honor of representing the Liberia Olympian Association (LOA) during the 2023 World Olympian Forum. LOA consists of current and former athletes who’ve represented Liberia at the Olympics. The World Olympian Association (WOA) hosted the event in Istanbul, Turkey from September 16 to September 17. 

Our two-person delegation, made up of myself and LOA president Phobay Lolik, was well received. Fellow Olympians and the WOA governing body showered us with a lot of interest and admiration. Our colleagues admire what we’ve been able to achieve in the short time we’ve been a charter member of the WOA.

At the time, we’d only been a charter member for 15 months and had registered 18 Liberian Olympians to our association. We also formed a partnership with Go Team Liberia to highlight our members and we attended the 2022 Meeting of African National Olympian Associations in Cairo, Egypt.

Presentations and Post-Olympic careers

One hundred and fifty Olympians from over 100 countries attended the weekend-long discussions, debates and learnings. Although, there were many great presentations, in my opinion, the highlight was the “Upskilling Olympians: SkillsBuild Platform” presentation hosted by our own distinguished president and her colleague from IBM-London, Nitin Mishra, head of IBM athlete’s group. 

Lolik, a Liberian Olympian from the 2012 Olympic team, initiated this collaboration between IBM and WOA. The program provides a game-changing experience for Olympians who are either transitioning into their post career or looking to upskill themselves with viable educational tools in a new professional industry. 

Our esteemed colleagues had massive excitement and interest in this platform. I highly encourage Olympians, who haven’t taken the opportunity to register and review the platform, to try it out. 

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Olympian for life

“Leveraging your Olympian Image,” stood out as another great presentation. During this workshop, Ms. Caroline Rowland encouraged Olympians to build off of their individual unique authentic stories to cultivate an image that instantly has sustainable credibility. Rowland spoke about how we can leverage this image for personal monetary gains — if we build it, brands will come to us.  This great advice could benefit any Liberian Olympian and Olympians around the world.

Throughout the weekend, presenters repeated the key phrase “Olympian for life.” WOA wanted to drive this point home with the audience. The global association reminded those who have achieved the highest distinction in sport that our responsibility to inspire, encourage and support others does not end with our competition days. We are Olympians for life.

The big goal

As a Liberian Olympian, the OLY moniker implores each of us to continue spreading the Olympic tenets in our post-performance years.  The task to be a service to our communities and the world at large remains long after our athletic careers. That’s my key takeaway from this event.

WOA is committed to help facilitate whatever initiatives we as NOAs or individual Olympians wish to undertake in order to service our communities in a positive manner. Whether that be with educational tools, strategic support and implementation, technical resources, or financial assistance, the WOA goal is to serve and support us as we continue to be a service to society.