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Other Sports of Friday, 12 July 2002

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Two Athletes opt out C'wealth Games

Ghanaian aspirations at the forthcoming Manchester Commonwealth Games suffered another blow on Wednesday evening when two foreign-based members of the athletics team, Kenneth Andam and Monica Twum, withdrew from the team. Graphic Sports investigations revealed that the two athletes officially communicated their decision to the Chef de Mission, Dr Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, through the Ghana Amateur Athletics Association (GAAA) by close of work on Wednesday.

Although the two athletes described their reasons for opting out of the competition as personal, there are growing speculations that the withdrawal was due to the furore between the athletes and officials.

It would be recalled that the foreign-based athletes? spokesperson, Andrew Owusu, together with Prof. Francis Duodu, last week led a revolt to oust S. S. Atuahene as the chief coach of the association.

In a petition to the Minister of Youth and Sports, copied to President J. A. Kufuor, the athletes threatened to boycott the games if coach Atuahene is included in the trip to Manchester.

At a hurriedly arranged meeting to resolve the impasse, Mr Atuahene voluntarily withdrew from the team to avoid any row which might affect the performance of the team.

The athletes' decision, according to reliable sources, will have a serious effect on both the male and female relay teams.

Although the two are believed to be quitting the competition, arguably due to poor preparations, there are mounting rumours that Andam and Monica's withdrawal is in protest of an earlier opposing stand taken against Mr Atuahene.

The source added that apart from Abdul Aziz Zakari who has been consistent throughout the year as far as international competitions are concerned, none of the remaining athletes has engaged in any high-level competition within the time frame being used by the International Games Management Committee (IGMC) as yardstick for its selection.

Although the source could not give a substantive number of athletes that are against what they termed as clever move by the power block to gag Atuahene, his pull-out from the games can also affect the performance of those who are believed to be his favourites.

According to the official list, the names of six males and females each have already been submitted to the organising committee for accreditation in Manchester.

Apart from that, while it is against athletics rules to enter four athletes in a relay competition, it is also dangerous to hang on only five since the team might suffer in case of an injury.

Already, the (IGMC) has dropped the women's relay team from competing at the games.

Temporarily, the GAAA and the IGMC are said to be in a tight corner, hurriedly arranging for a last minute trial among the local athletes to replace Andam and Twum as they did in the case of Vida Nsiah.