Sports Features of Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Source: GNA

2012 Paralympic Games: Can “Team Ghana” defy the odds?

London, August 29, GNA – The 2012 Paralympic Games is set to take off in London, with Ghana a definite participant in the global event that seeks to bring together people with disability to compete in 21 sporting disciplines.

Team Ghana will make an appearance in three of the 21 sporting disciplines: Athletics, Powerlifting and Cycling, with the 2010 Commonwealth Games Bronze medalist Anita Fodjour and Botyso Nkegbe, Alem Mumuni and Charles Narh Teye seeking honours in the listed events.

Even though the country's recent participation in the main Olympic Games ended on a miserable note, when the participants failed to make any significant impact, many will still be full of smiles if the Paralympic team, end up with at least a medal at the Games.

The contingent indeed carry some array of hope for Ghana, as they have done in previous events and one will not be surprised if they pull up such surprises once again at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, though, Ghana is still an 'infant' in the Paralympic Games, taking into consideration the development gap between other competing countries.

However, historical facts on the performance of disabled athletes in international games, seem to be in their favour as they have been key architects in Ghana’s success at international events and the 2007 and 2011 All Africa Games and 2010 Commonwealth Games are typical success examples.

At the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Anita Fodjour picked a bronze medal, at a time the nation was still grappling with where its first medal might be coming from. Prior to this, she had an impressive record of three medals from the 2007 All Africa Games and a bronze medal at the last All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.

Fordjour 30, remains the nation's hope in the biggest Paralympic Games in the history of the event, as she is currently ranked the fourth best in the world, with a great wealth of experience in international games with her ability to secure qualification marks from the ever competitive qualifiers, and thus with a little effort on her part will see Ghana making a historical appearance in the medal zone.

She, indeed represents a medal prospect for the nation and this was corroborated by President of National Paralympic Committee (NPC) Bishop Cornelius Adja Cofie.

Bishop Adja Cofie in an interview with the GNA Sports in London said that he expects a medal from the 30year old para-athlete.

Paracyclist Alem Mumuni is on record as the first ever Ghanaian cyclist to participate in the Paralympic Games and one of the two Africans in the cycling category.

Mumuni, three times Best Cyclist in Africa, has over the years demonstrated the skill and energy required to compete at the highest level and could be tagged as a medal hope for Ghana.

Nkegbe is obviously one of the experienced para-athletes in Ghana having participated in the last two two Paralympic Games (Athens and Beijing) Olympics.

For many pundits, his performance in recent times has not been that impressive and the last All Africa Games was ample evidence, even though many other factors could have accounted for that, but the veteran managed to shrug off all odds to secure qualification to the global event.

Based on his experience, one will not be surprised to see the 33 year old, who boasts of three medals at the 2007 All Africa Games in Algeria and 2008 SWAG Male Athlete of the Year, make a significant progress in his third Olympic Games and possibly win a medal for the country.

Power-lifter Charles Narh Teye, is beaming with a lot of confidence to make an impact in the competition and by the qualification process one cannot but give him a chance to make progress in the competition.

The 35 year old Teye, who made gold at the International Parlympic Committee (IPC) Games gives one enough conviction that he could make an impact in his category.

The four-member team, have also had reasonable amount of training and camping having been in London four to five clear weeks ahead of the competition courtesy Right To Dream and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

From all indications, Team Ghana is definitely ready in the face of all odds to make an impact in the biggest Paralympics Games ever which has 4,280 athletes drawn from 169 countries competing in 21 disciplines.

There may be a huge development gap between Ghana and other competing countries, but Ghana still has a slim chance of making some amount of impact at the Games, which could possibly bring a medal from any of the four athletes in the face of the numerous challenges facing them and their desire to excel and make a name for themselves and their compatriots.

(From William D. Ezah, GNA Special Correspondent, London)