Team Ghana eyes class of Sydney 2000 feat … In women 4×100m relay

Akua Obeng Akrofi

STAR sprinters Mavis Akoto, Vida Anim, Veronica Bawuah, Vida Nsiah and Monica Afia Twum, may not have won any medal for Ghana at the Sydney 2000 Olympics in Australia, but they impressively ‘tortured’ the tracks at the 4×100m relay competition.

Gemma Acheampong

The Ghanaians demonstrated rare bravado but succumbed at the semi-final stage in 43:19 secs. Perhaps, it was how far their strength could propel them The final race of that campaign was won by a formidable team from the Bahamas, comprising Sevatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup, Pauline Davis-Thompson and Debbie Ferguson.

Jamaica, who were highly favoured, placed second for the silver, with the USA settling for bronze.

Interestingly, following Marion Jones’s admission eight years later, that she had used performance enhancing drugs, the entire USA team was stripped of their medals. However, Jones’s teammates appealed that decision by taking the case to the Court of Arbitration. On July 16, 2010, CAS ruled in favour of the athletes and both American women relay squads had their medals reallocated – but not the cheating Jones!

Today, the Sydney 2000 Olympics appears to be the nation’s finest performance at the women’s relay event of the quadrennial games.

But another promising generation is steadily emerging. They are Janet Amponsah, Gemma Acheampong, Beatrice Gyaman and Akua Obeng Akrofi. They are Ghana’s representation for the relay in Rio, and can only challenge themselves into carving a piece of Olympic history.

Poking home an excuse as first-time Olympic participants, for any failure, may not hold enough water since their 2000 predecessors were also tasting their debut when they struck that semi-final berth.

Truth be told, however, that it is going to be a mammoth assignment for Ghana’s women who qualified into the Olympics ranked as the 15th team.

Impressively, USA-based Akua Obeng-Akrofi is not bothered at all about the team’s ranking.

“While it’s always good to know where you’re ranked and the competition that lies ahead, nothing is cast in stone. To me, being ranked 15th just means there’s a lot of room to climb to get to the top,” she said assuredly, in an interview with the media ahead of today’s event.

The relatively youthful Ghanaians will be running at 11.20am (2.20pm GMT) against some of the finest relay teams from Jamaica, USA, Britain, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahamas, Nigeria, France and Canada among others, and it appears Ghana’s ‘fresh’ ladies may have bitten more than they can chew. But they say, no fears!

Perhaps, no one should underestimate their potential to explode off from the heats, having clinched silver at the 2015 All Africa Games where they ran the second fastest time (43.72sec) ever by a Ghanaian women’s relay team, since 2000.

Nevertheless, if they crumble, that is the swang-song to Ghana’s calamitous campaign in Rio de Janeiro, where a pack of 16 brave ‘novices’ came to try their luck. But if they succeed, the nation would celebrate wildly.

From: John Vigah, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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