Monday, August 18, 2008

Ghana needs to win something at the Olympics

The Olympics is totally the biggest sporting event. Some may argue for the World Cup, but even though the Mundial is grand and is centered around the passion of the nation (aka football), all other sports have some different fans who pay attention to the Olympics. For instance, I have a couple of friends who could care less about football but will stop work to watch Michael Phelps and the 100 metre sprint.

I didn't catch the opening ceremony, it's always the greatest spectacle of celebration. Ghana's contingent was very small and they were clad in kente. I've heard people complaining about the choice of attire, about how kente has been accepted by the greater Black community and we can't claim it anymore. Nonsense! People should know we are the originators! :-) The Ghanaian contingent held their own, you can't miss us, we are colourful and we stand out.

I was very disappointed the Black Meteors failed to make it to the Olympic soccer tournament. We have a lot of good young players but we fell short to our West African friends from Nigeria. We rejoiced like maniacs when we sent them packing at the African Cup of Nations but this absence at the Olympics was a great return shot from the Naija peoples. I wish the Nigerian Dream Team the best as they go for Olympic glory.

Ghana's bread and butter at the Olympics is amateur boxing. Bukom sure does churn out a ton of boxers, the kenkey is the key. People generalize a lot of Ghanains to be short and stout, go to James Town and see. It seems we'll lose out on a boxing medal too, what happened to the kenkey, folks? Ghana has 4 all-time Olympic medals, silver (2) and bronze (2). We were the first African country to medal in soccer (Barcelona 92) and then in the subsequent editions, Nigeria (Atlanta 96) and Cameroun (Sydney 2000) shut us up with gold medals.

vida anim carrying ghana flag at beijing olympics 2008 As if not having enough representatives at the Olympics wasn't enough bad news, Vida Anim (our flagbearer) boycotted the 200m citing lack of support from the Ghanaian authorities. Apparently, our prayers and support is not enough. We all know we don't have money to fund every sport and there are bigger priorities so this is bound to happen. Sometimes, we have to look at separate cases and support success and progress. Vida Anim could have been great but she feels she is not being rewarded. Does she have a free meal compared to the athletes from Jamaica? Well, the difference is Jamaica actually takes their athletics program seriously. What do we as Ghanaians take seriously? Am not talking sitting around discussing tactics for football games, but putting our money and effort where our mouths are.

Check out the website of Ghana's female really team for the 4x100m. According to them, mismanagement, bad luck, and losing of the team spirit prevented them from fulfilling their potential. We shouldn't lay the blame solely on management and the powers that be, they try - the contingent was promised cash rewards, 20,000 GhC for a gold, 15,000 for a silver and 10,000 cash for a bronze. You could argue that they needed the monetary support to win the medals and not the promise of rewards after they achieved the medal.

The make-up of the contingent is as follows: three athletes — sprint queen, Vida Anim, male sprinters Aziz Zakari and Seth Amoo and their coach; six boxers — Bastie Samir, Issa Samir, Manyo Plange, Ahmed Saraku, Samuel Kotey-Neequaye and Prince Octopus Dzanie and their technical handlers, as well as a team doctor and a physiotherapist.

There is a joke about how Ghana and Nigeria ended up in West Africa and Ethiopia and Kenya ended up in East Africa. A long long time ago, Africans entered into a race for settlement and land from Africa's West Coast. The Ghanaians and Nigerians shot out of the blocks, sprinting and leaving the other countries in their wake. About a quarter of the way into the race, they got tired and settled in what is now West Africa. The Ethiopians and Kenyans were rather slow and lagged behind but with their superior endurance, they made it past Lake Victoria all the way to the East Coast. That is why the West Africans excel in the sprints and the East Africans are excellent in the long distance races. True story.

It seems we are okay in the sprints and boxing sports. We need to invest some more money into these sports because we have to be counted in the Olympics. We've not won a medal in 16 years - I shock, shy, conf extra. Why do we need to win something at the Olympics? Because Togo did. Cameroun did. You know won too. It would be good for our development, our psyche, our well-being, our patriotism.
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