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Ghana gears up for African Games amid high expectations4 min read

Ghana gears up for African Games amid high expectations<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">4</span> min read</span>
Excitement reverberates throughout Ghana as the 13th African Games (Accra 2023) draws closer, with athletes and officials from participating nations descending upon Accra ahead of the official opening ceremony on March 8, adding to the buzz surrounding this momentous celebration of African athletic prowess, culture and unity.

South Africa’s enthusiastic arrival last Thursday marked a significant milestone for the March 8 – 24 event, adding to the growing contingent of an expected 49 participating nations arriving in the Ghanaian capital amid high expectations.

Already in town are record African Games gold medal winners Egypt, Libya and Tunisia who are eager to showcase their sporting prowess on the African stage. This influx of athletes and officials signifies the international character of the African Games and the spirit of competition that will soon reignite when it officially starts Monday with the table tennis and badminton events.

High expectations

During his address to Parliament last Tuesday on the State of the Nation, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo touted the nation’s preparedness and readiness to host a successful continental event for the first time through the provision of first-class infrastructure, seamless organisation and the beguiling hospitality that Ghana is famed for.

“The preparations are all complete, and I was excited and very pleased with what I saw at Borteyman when I went to inaugurate the Games village some two weeks ago. We have high class sporting facilities which should serve us well long after the games are over,” the President said.

It has been a long time coming since Ghana won the bid in 2018 to host the continent’s version of the Olympic Games. The completion and inauguration of modern facilities just in time at Borteyman and the University of Ghana, as well as refurbishment of other venues are the clearest signs that the country is ready for a sporting jamboree as Accra transforms itself into the continent’s sporting capital.

As the world waits with bated breath for the commencement of the games, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Dr Kwaku Ofosu-Asare, has reaffirmed the committee’s readiness and determination to ensure an amazing experience for athletes, officials, media and spectators, giving practical expression to the competition’s slogan: Experience the African Dream.

Readiness of facilities

The recent third Open Athletics Championship served as a crucial test event for the newly installed track at the University of Ghana Sports Stadium, providing invaluable insights for organisers and athletes alike.

Ghanaian sprinter, Sarfo Ansah, who won the men’s 100m race, said in an interview that he was impressed with the quality of the track.

“The track is good, it’s very fast. I hope we can train here a lot so we can get used to it before the competition starts,” he said.

The President of Ghana Athletics, Bawah Fuseini, outlined the essence of the testing event.

“The running surface is good. It’s only a bit windy,” he said.

“The next time we’ll know when to put the events so that we won’t have lots of wind to deal with. When we’re competing, we’ll know whether to start in the morning or evening,” he said.

Track and field events, especially the sprints, hold promise for Ghana, with sprinter Benjamin Azamati leading a strong 36-member squad. Additionally, hopes are high for success in football, a discipline in which Ghana has excelled in the past. Ghanaians will look up to the Black Satellites and Black Princesses to excel in the football, which represents one of Ghana’s sporting prowess and a discipline Ghana has previously won gold medals in and will naturally carry the hopes and aspirations of Ghanaians with home advantage.

The badminton competition, set to kick off tomorrow at the Borteyman Sports Complex Dome, marks the official start of sporting action for the Games. This early commencement adds to the excitement and allows athletes to acclimatise to the environment and competition atmosphere.

Sporting spectacle

With 29 sporting disciplines across nine different venues throughout Accra and Cape Coast, the Games promise to be a diverse and captivating spectacle. Eight of the disciplines will serve as qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, while six will be demonstration sports. Apart from women’s football, which will be held in Cape Coast, all other events will take place in Accra.

For Team Ghana, there is an added incentive to excel as the African Games represent the final opportunity for many athletes to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. With some eight events designated as qualifiers for the Olympics, competition is expected to be keen as athletes make last-ditch efforts to secure spots at the summer Games.
Beyond competition, the African Games serve as a catalyst for development and national pride.

The 13th African Games promise to be a historic event, with the potential to leave a lasting legacy that celebrates the power of African unity and sporting excellence. And for Ghana, it presents a fine opportunity for the country to undergo a transformative experience that outlasts the event and also extends beyond the realm of sports.