Chief Coach of the Ghana Weightlifting Federation (GWF), Michael Johnson Abotsi, has said the nation possessed a wide pool of talents, formidable enough to annex several medals at the Accra 2023 African Games.
However, he said the nation must invest hugely in the GWF’s preparations to ensure it presented a fearsome team ahead of the quadrennial Games in Accra.
“There’s no shred of doubt that we have a good, promising pool of talents to win medals for Ghana at the Games, but we need to pump in resources to achieve that.
“Majority of our athletes aren’t commercially engaged and so you can imagine their consistency at training,” he lamented during a chat with the Times Sports on Tuesday.
According to the GWF head trainer, who snatched the nation’s first medals in weightlifting (two silver and bronze) during the Abuja 2003 African Games in Nigeria, the sport can win as many as 15 medals at the Accra 2023 if much attention is accorded it.
He said President of the GWF, Mr Jerry Ahmed Shaib, was doing his ‘humanly best’ to lift the sport logistically and financially, “but it is obvious he needs support to be able to raise the spirit and quality of the athletes to the desired level.”
Mr Shaib, who doubles as CEO of the Coastal Development Authority (CDA), and was in December 2021 crowned Best Professional CEO of the Year by the Ghana Union of Professional Students (GUPS) PRO Awards, has promised to break his back for weightlifting’s meteoric growth.
In spite of the challenges, a few committed lifters of the national weightlifting team, Black Cranes, including Winnifred Ntumi, Sandra Mensimah Owusu, Abdul Salim, Emmanuel Allotey, Blessing Allotey, Eric Opare, Paul Agama, Eric Malibe, Sylvanus Kugblenu, Eric Boateng Amo and Clement Korto, have managed to ride out the storm to train daily at the Accra Sports Stadium, with the Accra 2023 Games as the main target.
Only two of the athletes – UK-based Forester Osei and home-based Winnifred Ntumi have qualified for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to be staged from July 28-August 8.
“Many athletes would have grabbed tickets for the Birmingham Games if from the get-go we had the resources to send them to the many qualifying events that were held across the world,” Coach Abotsi insisted.
Weightlifting alone won eight of the 14 medals Ghana amassed at the Morocco African Games in 2019.
BY JOHN VIGAH