LONDON 2012- Lessons Learnt
Ghana’s first appearance at the Olympics was in 1952 at the Helsinki Games, where we were represented by a seven-man team. Our first medal did not come until the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where Clement Quartey boxed his way onto the podium to receive a silver medal. Eddie Blay followed with a bronze medal in boxing at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games and at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games, Prince Amartey also took bronze in the middleweight division. We did not go near the medals podium until some 20 years later when the Black Meteors reached the semi finals at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games where they lost to the host nation Spain. They however beat Australia in the play-off for bronze.
That is our Olympics record as a nation, not very glamorous. So we came to the London Olympics not expecting to go back home with bags of medals. But every Ghanaian was hoping we would at least make a good impression. The games have ended and not very much was heard about Team GH. And frankly, this was not surprising. Lack of funding had forced the team to break camp months before the games. The nation’s economic woes would not allow for much funding to be pumped into sports. It’s a tricky balancing act for the government and various sports authorities. How to achieve the best possible results with the meagre funds available?
It does not take much research to notice our successes as a nation- at the Olympics and all other sporting competitions have come from two disciplines- boxing and football. Our greatest sports men and women are footballers and boxers. Those are the two things we are naturally good at and have infrastructure already in place to train and nurture our young talents. It will therefore be the sensible option to concentrate our resources and attention on these two sports if we are to make any headlines in Rio.
One of the most impressive nations at the games apart from the host nation, for me, was Jamaica. They bagged 4 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals and their athletes grab the big headlines. And all of these medals came from athletics- 3 of the gold medals were from Bolt and 2 of the silver medals from Blake. They have found a sport they are naturally good at as a nation and perfected their act! Now there is surely a lesson in there for us as Ghanaians if we are to win any medals at the next Olympics. So like the Jamaicans who are well known for their sprinters, Kenyans for their long distance runners, lets be known for our footballers and boxers. We are not China or the USA, who do not just have the financial resources to back their sports men and women, but also have large populations to choose from. Let’s start preparing our boxers and footballers now if the former Gold Coast is to win any gold in Rio.
By Maclean Arthur