Feature Article of Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Columnist: Twumasi, Patrick

The Jamaican example Ghana can learn from; London 2012

The just ended London 2012 Olympics again brought some level of embarrassment and negative expose’ to bad preparations and halfhearted investment of time and money as a nation into sports.

Once again we returned from the four yearly sporting activities, the London 2012 Olympics without a wooden medal as we did in Beijing 2008. A game that comes off every four years, expectation is that, Ghana will prepare adequately to win laurels for the country. Winning at the Olympics is an odious hurdle, due to how stiff the competition is. Bear in mind that, every competitor who shows up is a champion in his or her own right. Hence, without adequate training it will be a tall order to sustain the pressure from fellow athletes and possibly win a medal. But with determination and good preparation on the part of athletes and support from the Sports Authorities will always ensure the goodies come home.

It is insightful to note that, when the country was to take a dive into winning ways preparations, the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) members were locked in hair splitting exercise on leadership. Months unending and the GOC remained in the news all for the parochial interest of some individuals. Turf war, and Ghana suffers, and indeed we have suffered. And what was Ghana expecting, a medal haul? No! That will be unfair to natural justice. As a nation we misplaced our priority with the wrong impression, we could outwit nature, but no it did not happen. The autonomous structure of the GOC mean, there was less interference from any institution outside the sporting body. The Association bodies under the umbrella of the Ghana Olympic Committee themselves, battled each other as to who truly represents a particular group at the GOC. It was all about leadership and nothing like the well-being of the nation. Kenya, an East African country known for her triumph in the long and middle distance equally dipped. Their life style has changed and the competition has become keen. This left them with gold instead of the expected ten. Ghana’s Sporting Chiefs should be informed; there is no vacuum for haphazard preparations.

Amazingly, bonuses meant to have been paid to athletes for the All African Games held at Maputo Mozambique has just been promised. These games were a prologue to the London Olympics, which was the dais for selection. Yet, athletes had to return from London 2012, to plead for what they are due. This depicts with every indication that, the athletes got to London without inspiration and were demoralized. When will the bonuses for the just ended Olympics be paid? Behaviour of this nature is weeing profound with the nation Ghana. It has been once too many, where sports men resort to the media to claim what is dully theirs. Is it same with the allowances for the over bloated officials who follow the contingent to such games only as tourists?

On medal winning, Ghana could not present an athlete at the grand finale of any of the sporting discipline at the games in London. How exposed were the Ghanaian athletes? When qualifying times for London 2012 trials were being held in Jamaica, the United State of America, what were we doing? The selection of the athletes was not evenly done. The stroke of time withdrawal of a boxer for another and the sending of an injured pugilist to the Olympics were all indication of how desperate we were. The art of self-defense as boxing is referred to, is physical by all indication. How then was Ghana willing to risk a healing boxer to survive in such a competitive game? The authorities refused to acknowledge the danger they were exposing the gentleman to, save the medical team in London. Unique people and their way of life.

Despite the short comings of the National Sports Authority (NSA) and Ghana Athletics Association (GAA), and the lackluster output of the Sports men and women, which they might blame it on lack of adequate preparation; you will agree age is working in tandem with injuries against some of the athletes. This calls for drastic measures to find replacement for these illustrious sons and daughters who have sacrifice for mother Ghana over the years. This calls for talent search, which abounds in the country.

There is every need for the Sports Authorities to hunt for talent to replace these aging athletes. The inter-schools remain the breeding ground for these talents. But how ready and committed are the authorities to identify such talent, nurture and offer the necessary support. These self-motivated students are running bear footed and worse of all on raw grass. In some instances, these raw talents set and break records on rocky dusty terrains. Facilities at the grassroots are really bad. Is it even worth mentioning?

In spite of the fact that our taste for medals knows no bound, one area that has eluded our attention is the facilities and the ever wild card, sponsorship for these sports men and women. Tartan tracks have been scares in Ghana, except the El-Wak stadium, which remains a military facility. An example is the Jamaican experience. The country lacked the facilities; this pushed them to send their athletes to the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK). Some defected to compete against their own blood and conscience. However, upon putting in place of the right facilities, the green, yellow and black flag of Jamaica is always hoisted high above all others. A case worthy of siting as an example is the just ended London 2012 Olympics. Think of Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, not to mention the sprint king in waiting, Yohan Blake and Weir, and it’s all about world and Olympics records. Jamaica reigns in the world of sprinting.

Ghana can also put the art together and attain this feat achieved by the Jamaicans. This, we are capable of doing to the best of our ability. Yes we can, because we have the talents and they abound across the country. All that is expected of the authorities is for them to be diligent in their search as well as motivate such young energetic boys and girls to stay focused. These would include provision of the right facilities as it pertains elsewhere. Because, when the proper structures are not in place, no matter how motivated and well prepared an athlete is with the sight of the right facility for competition there is the tendency the fellow will fail, due to lack of familiarity. But, if the athletes train with such facilities they do not get frustrated any day they are faced with a challenge.

Ghana is capable let’s do it.

Patrick Twumasi