Ghana’s finest Para-cyclist Alem Mumuni is keen on representing the country at the Rio Olympics and wins medals despite the apparent support from the authorities to aid his preparation and participation.
In an interview with the Times Sports, he said, qualification alone is an honour to him and the nation and he is bent on making the best out of it.
“How much have we invested as a country to get a medal”? He asked. That notwithstanding, he added, “I would not relent on my ultimate goal of winning a medal as a reward for my hard work at training.”
To be able to adequately prepare for the Olympic Games, he said, he would require three months intensive training with accommodation which would cost 4,000 pounds excluding equipment.
He added that, a standardised bicycle for such event would also cost 10,000 pounds and he would chase for funds to support his trip, which should have been the duty of the nation.
He said it was important for stakeholders to see the sacrifices and efforts of athletes and provide the necessary support for them to perform at the biggest multi sports competition in the world (the Olympic Games).
Alem said the challenges faced by athletes to represent the country at international competitions will serve as sacrifices which will ensure a good future for upcoming ones.
“Para-cyclists in future would not suffer as I am doing today. Some of us must go through all the challenges to ensure future ones succeed”, he stated.
Leaders of this country, he said, do not take the sport serious as a career for the disabled especially and has never been keen on supporting them though they always compete in the name of the country.
Alem said, having qualified without support from the state, he is still struggling to raise money to prepare for the competition.
“I have over the years relied on supports from individuals and friends to represent the country at international competitions and would do same for the upcoming Olympic Games”, he said.
He said what para-athletes especially go through is very demoralising and but he would continue to do everything possible to get to the competition and win laurels.
“I never expected to be the only cyclist to represent Ghana in Rio as I did in 2012, though I did not participate. I am going alone again because our leaders do not see the need to support us”, he stressed.
“It’s my passion to change the perception that people with disabilities are beggars. Surprisingly, he said there is no prize money attached to the medals they win at such competitions as countries are expected to reward their athletes.
“I have struggled to qualify and won medals at Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and International Paracycling Committee (IPC) organised events between 2014 and 2016 including World Championships, World Cup in Spain (2015) and the last event was the World Cup in March 2016. All I have done with no assistance from the state”, he stated.
According to the Technical Director of the Ghana Cycling Federation (GCF), Shaaban Mohammed, it is about time the country took responsibility of their duties, adding that the federation would not give up on knocking on the right doors to get support.
“No cyclist is allowed to compete with a sponsor’s name and the GCF and the National Paralympic Committee would ensure the support is given to further motivate Alem to do more”, he stated.
By Michael D. Abayateye