All eyes on Kaya Forson today … As Ghana begins campaign at the Rio Olympics

Kaya Adwoa Forson

Kaya Adwoa Forson

SPAIN-based swimming sensation, Kaya Adwoa Forson, dives into the water this evening in Ghana colours, hoping to produce a medal-winning form in the women’s 200m freestyle event at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Barra da Tijuca.

Ghana is carving out her debut in this event and Forson knows there is serious competition in her way to be able to surmount what many here consider a Himalayan task a first-timer.

If she manages to swim through this evening’s demanding heats, that is expected to start at 4.pm (7.pm GMT), Kaya will roar straight to the semi-final berth to be staged at 1.03 am early Tuesday morning with the grand finale taking place at 1.19 am on Wednesday.

At present, the 14-year-old swimmer holds the national record of 31.5 seconds in the 50-metre freestyle and 1.04.52 minutes in the 100m freestyle event. Forson is a formidably clinical competitor in the 200m freestyle too, which is what she will be doing on Day 3 of the event today.

On her way to clinching the Olympic spot, Forson had several top five and top 10 overall and first places by age group performances in the International Swimming Federation (FINA) approved Rio qualifying event that featured 296 athletes representing 49 clubs and 21

countries over two days of competition.

Nevertheless, the young lady will be under some torrid pressure to prove the cynics wrong as to why her other solid compatriot, Ophelia Swayne, was ‘sacrificed’ for her – a decision that sparked intense controversy in Ghana.

Ophelia is regarded by many as Ghana’s fastest swimmer, and relatively better decorated having won two gold medals at the International Schwimmfest in Germany after beating swimmers from 150 clubs from all over the world in 2013. She also snatched gold and a silver medal at the 2013 Lagos International Classics in Nigeria.

Amid the pell-mell that followed Ophelia’s rejection, the frustrated girl accused Forson’s family of paying loads of cash to the Ghana Swimming Federation (GSF) to pave way for their daughter.

It was quite irresponsible an accusation on the part of Swayne since she did not have any evidence to back her wild claim. Heartily, she later apologised to the family of her rival but not after being heavily slapped with an indefinite suspension by the GSF.

This is the reason Forson will dive and stretch every bone and sinew to ensure she does something memorable for Team Ghana.

“I reckon I have a big challenge ahead of me but nothing is impossible to achieve with determination,” she told the Times Sports at the weekend.

Then on Thursday, it would be the turn of Abeiku Jackson to demonstrate what he has under his sleeve for Ghana at the Games as he competes in the 50m freestyle event.

Abeiku, arguably Ghana’s fastest male swimmer, successfully competed in the World Aquatics

Championships in Kazan, Russia in 2015 and is currently the record holder of 13 Ghana national records.

He also competed in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and could use his experience to dazzle his way to the top.

A breath-taking sport, swimming has been in the Olympic Games since Athens 1896. Both men and women participate in 16 events, including relays and individual competitions in four strokes – freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke.

From John Vigah, Rio de Janeiro

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