The 13th African Games to be hosted by Ghana is just around the corner and it is pertinent to recall Ghana’s brilliant performances in the past Games.
I believe this may spur on the current generation of sportsmen and sportswomen to emulate their predecessors as the oldies like some of us cherish the good old days.
The spotlight this week is on the 3rd Games in Algeria 1978 that saw the international emergence of Azumah Nelson as a potential boxer of world class that he grew up to be. The young Featherweight Azumah won boxing gold alongside heavyweight Adama Mensah. Two other boxers won silver and bronze. Our track and field athletes won four more gold to bring Ghana’s gold tally to eight.
Azumah’s gold win was the highlight of the boxing division as he totally outpointed the famous Kenyan champion Modesto Odouri. On his way to the final Azumah beat Safariang Joutine of Sudan who was disqualified in the third round after hurling himself to the canvas and walking out of the ring weeping. The Sudanese could not stand the avalanche of punches from Azumah. The young Ghanaian pugilist then outclassed John Ossi of Nigeria in the semis before whipping Odouri for the gold.
Heavyweight Adama Mensah gained a second round win over another Kenyan, Joseph Kabedi, to win the gold. The Kenyan corner threw in the towel in the second round.
On his way to the final Adama beat Mohammed Salam of Sudan and knocked out Essenoussi of Libya in the second round to reach the final. The third finalist Welterweight Moro Tahiru was knocked out in the second round by Vincent Byurugaba of Uganda. Tahiru had earlier beaten John Djoma of Sudan and Enochama of Zambia.
Bronze medallist Napoleon Abbey
stopped Tahde of Kenya in the third round, the referee stepping in to stop the slaughter.
Napoleon won his second fight against Abubakar Semuyanga of Uganda but lost the third in the semis to clinch bronze.
Ghanaian boxers who suffered early elimination were bantamweight Eric Boone, who lost to Gondwe Kid of Malawi, Middleweight Mohammed Dauda who was outpointed by John Martins of Nigeria, Welterweight Mohammed Cofie beaten by Mourad Gergane of Algeria and lightwelterweight Baba Sumaila who lost to Lucas Msonba of Tanzania.
Two others won their first fights but could not survive the next round.
They were flyweight Peter Mensah who outclassed Aloudi Edo of Togo and lightwelterweight Akwei Addo who outpointed Baby Joe of Sierra Leone.
In athletics, Ghana shattered three records plus three golds, three silver and six bronze.
Hannah Afriyie clocked 23.01 secs in the 200 metres to erase the old record of 23.8 secs set by Alice Anum in 1973. Hannah also ran the anchor in the 4×400 metres golden quartet of Helena Opoku, Grace Bakari, and Georgina Aidoo clocking 3mins 35 secs to shatter the existing record of 39 secs set by the Kenyan quartet in the heats.
The men’s gold sprint quartet of Ohene Karikari, George Enchill, Albert Lomotey and Ernest Obeng clocked 39.24 secs to beat the old time of 39.56 secs set in Lagos 1973.
Detailed medal winners for Ghana
1. Hannah Afriyie 100m 11.5 secs gold
2. Hannah Afriyie 200m 23.01 secs gold (record)
3. Helena Opoku, Gracei Bakari, Georgina, Aidoo, Hannah Afriyie 4×400 metres 3mins 35 secs gold (record)
4. Ohene Karikari, George Enchill, Albert Lomotey, Ernest Obeng 4x100m 39.24 secs gold (record)
5. Janet Yawson, Long jump 2.29cm silver
6. Veronica Bawuah, shot putt 12.88cm, silver
7. Grace Bakari, 400m silver
8. Hannah Afriyie, Janet Yawson, Grace Bakari, Janet Ofosu 4x100m 45.19 secs silver.
9. Emelia Blavo, High jump bronze
10. Ohene Karikari
100m 10 46 secs bronze
11. Emmanuel Mifetu long jump bronze.
1. Esther Lamptey Women’s singles silver.
2. Helena Amankwa, Esther Lamptey women’s doubles silver.
3. Joseph Quansah Esther Lamptey mixed doubles bronze.
4. women’s team championship bronze.
The women’s squad of Joyce Wilson, Benedicta Biney, Esther Ohene, Sophia Nyarko, Millicent Aba, Victoria Sobayire, Wilhemina Ashong
Victoria Wilson, Susanna Holm Margaret Larbi and Gladys Adawusu beat Tunisia 3-2 to win bronze. Tunisia won the first two sets 15-8,15-4 but Ghana fought back spiritedly to win the next three sets 15-12,15-8 15-9. Victoria Afrossimons was the coach.
The Black Stars beat Malawi 1-0 to win the bronze
medal. Thanks to a 67th minute goal by Willie Klutse.
The line-up was Joseph Carr, Haruna Yusif, Ofei Ansah, Isaac Acquaye, Kuuku Dadzie, Adolf Armah, Willie Klutse/Abdul Razak, Ben Kayede, Opoku Afriyie, Mohammed Polo, Francis Kumi.
Earlier in the opening game, the Black Stars beat Cameroon 2-1. Right winger John Yawson scored in the 35th minute to give Ghana a 1-0 half time lead. Cameroon equalised through a penalty by Douade two minutes to full time. However, a brilliant move, started by outstanding midfielder Adolf Armah, was finished off with a superb goal by Abdul Razak in the 90th minute to win the day for Ghana.
This was a match Black Stars swift wingers Yawson and Polo, should have made sure of heavy tally especially in the first half. The two amazing wingers thrilled the crowd with their marvellous ball control but their over-elaboration robbed Ghana the chance to win by a wide margin. In the second match, Ghana drew 1-1 with Mali. The Malians took the lead in the 25th minute from the penalty spot but “Businessman” Opoku Afriyie equalised with a classic pile driver two minutes later.
Ghana lost 2-0 to Algeria in the third match and had to settle for the bronze with that narrow 1-0 victory over Malawi.
Surely the African Games have always produced a lot of thrills and the upcoming one in Ghana should be no exception.
Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.
The author of this piece is Ken Bediako, a veteran Ghanaian sports journalist.