A Sierra Leone sprinter who went missing after the 2014 Commonwealth Games has been refused permission to stay in the UK despite being offered a sports scholarship from the University of East London (UEL).

The 21-year-old was found sleeping rough in south London after he disappeared following the championships in Glasgow.

He was afraid to return to his Ebola-ravaged homeland in west Africa, where he said his entire family had been wiped out.

He was offered a glimmer of hope however, when news of his discovery hit the headlines and many people offered him help – including cash and free accommodation.

UEL gave him a place on the Applied Community Sport foundation degree course, which is delivered in association with West Ham United.

Dusty Amroliwala, UEL’s deputy vice-chancellor and chief operating officer, said: "We are all obviously very disappointed that the opportunity for Jimmy to study in the UK and to continue to develop as a world class athlete has, for now, been lost.

"At UEL, we set considerable store on the ability for people, of whatever backgrounds, to be granted the opportunity to achieve their full potential and to grasp the opportunity to succeed in their life ambitions through studying in Higher Education.

"Jimmy’s story - his struggle against huge adversity, his determination to succeed, his fortitude, all in the face of losing his family for a tragic second time in his young life – these things all marked him out as being a very special young man. He was exactly the kind of individual to whom UEL would wish to extend the hand of support and we are deeply saddened that we are no longer allowed to do so.

"The outcome of the Home Office decision will doubtless be a severe test for him; but if he continues to show the strength, resilience and humanity that he has displayed over the past year or so, this is unlikely to be the final chapter in the Jimmy Thoronka story."

But the Home Office have refused Mr Thoronka’s application to live in the UK, stating its grounds were “clearly unfounded”.

A spokesman told The Guardian : “All applications for a visa or leave to remain are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.

“Mr Thoronka’s claim did not meet the required thresholds within the immigration rules.”

Also speaking to The Guardian Mr Thoronka said: “What is going to happen to me if I am forced to return to Sierra Leone?

“There is no one to look after me and support me there and the training facilities are very bad. I don’t think I will make it if I have to go back.”