WHERE IS THE GOLD, GHANA

WHERE IS THE GOLD, GHANA
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The Olympic has grown from what it used to be at the beginning. It has become mammoth and still getting bigger. Countries spend millions in preparing for the event and for Host countries, the amount can only be imagined. From Greece through China and Great Britain, the games have grown and grown as each tried to out-do the predecessor.

Today, the Games can only be hosted by countries whose economies could be said to be healthy. As the games have grown, so has the perception. No country would spend millions of dollars only to go to the Games for the sake of it. Everybody goes there to be a success. International pump millions of dollars to keep the Olympic flame burning.

Pic: Russian super athlete Yelena Isabayeva

Pic: Russian super athlete Yelena Isabayeva

So despite the threat of Zika, the lure and attraction of the Olympics Games was too much for the flame to be doused.  At the end of the day, the Games came off and could be said to have been very successful.

Yes, man prides himself as having made giant strides.  Yet when I look around me, all I see are the very same old things repeating themselves. I mean nothing much has changed if there’s nothing new!

I recall learning a very long time ago in my political science class that might or power is right. Several years later, after all the talk about equality before the law and the razzmatazz, might still appears to the right as the strong, the rich and the very influential rule our world.

You will recall that a little over a year ago in 2014, the Ebola scourge was at its height or zenith in West Africa. The African Cup of Nations was coming up in Morocco. But because of the health scare, Morocco pulled out of hosting the competition and was subsequently banned by the African Football Confederation (CAF).

Equatorial Guinea was then selected to host the AFCON in 2015. The clamour was defeaning for the Games to be called off.  Even African players plying their trade in the west, were cajoled by their ‘paymasters’ to turn their backs on their countries by turning down invitation by their countries to come down and feature in the competition.

Issa Hayatou president of the Confederation of African ‘Football (CAF) was made a persona non grata for standing his ground and not kowtowing to the powers that be for the Games to be called off.

At the end of the day, the Games were successfully held.  None of the footballers that came to feature died or contracted any deadly disease. The truth however, was that, the shine was taken off the competition.

The saddest part of the Ebola tragedy there was the ‘ban’ on West Africans travelling to America.  And even those western countries that weren’t that radical, quarantined citizens from that part of the world and put them through strenuous checks like the lowest if animals before allowing them in. All these were done in order that Africa because of her lack of power, would be painted black and depicted as a place were nothing good could come from.

Fast forward to 2016, to the Olympic Games , in Rio, Brazil.  Again, there’s a medical problem but this time what did we see? Zika, a debilitating disease that is spread by mosquitoes and affects children was in full effect in Latin America and the Caribbean countries with the worse-hit country being Brazil. All calls to have the Games called off or the venue changed because of the Zika threat were silenced.  It was as if there was nothing amiss.  All the righteous voices that rose up against the CAN in 2015, were silent!

The power of the Games was just too great. The sponsorship by the big companies, was such that it cannot be allowed to go waste.  So threat or no threat, the Games must go on.  Yes, might is right!

A little over a year ago, there were whispers that all mighty Russian athletes have not been competing fairly. A few were nabbed for doping and it became necessary for a thorough probe to be conducted. What came out shocked the whole world.  Yes, doping was found to be not only endemic, but state sponsored!

Richard Pound and his guys at the World anti-Doping Agency (WADA) did the number on Russia and decided that Russia be banned from the Olympics until they put their house and act together.  The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) upheld the ban on all Russian track and field athletes except those that want to compete under a neutral flag! The Court of Arbitration of sports (CAS) upheld the validity of the IAAF ban. If you said bravo, you said it too soon for Russia with all its night wasn’t going to sit idly by and allow herself to be shamed and embarrassed. She’s much too powerful for that.

Instead of Lord Sebastian Coe and his lieutenants at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having gone through the due process, to take a decision on Russia, they dithered for a long time. In the end, the IOC despite the evidence of the systematic doping, left the decision of whether to ban or not to ban Russia to the 28 sporting federations.  The rest like they say in politics, is history.

Pic: Richard Pound, Chairman of WADA

Pic: Richard Pound, Chairman of WADA

It’s all nothing but posturing and sloganeering. There’s no fairness in the system.  If you want justice or fairness, become strong.  It’s that simple!

Anyway, enough talk about doping and fairness.  The question I’m asking is why do nation-states put a lot into preparing for the Olympics? The preparations!  The new stadiums and infrastructure that are put in place! The strenuous training by the athletes!  Is it all just to put in an appearance or to win medals? The joy in participating is when the records are broken and medals are won.  Why would we celebrate Usain Bolt if not for his prowess?

Specifically, why does Ghana have to spend her meagre resources to train athletes in preparation towards the Games despite the bickering by people? We would be deluding ourselves if we say the Olympics is for fun.  It’s more than that now. We expend on our athletes so they could win us medals. Watching the Brazilian footballers receive their gold medals brought out forcefully the essence of the Games which is to showcase excellence and win medals.  Ask Usain Bolt!   ASsk david Rudisha! Ask Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian of all time! Ask Mo Farah! Ask Caster Semenya! Ask the United States of America!  Ask Great Britain!  Ask China! And yes, ask our brothers from Kenya!

Pic: ' triple triple' winner Usain Bolt of Jamaica

Pic: ‘ triple triple’ winner Usain Bolt of Jamaica

While others are welcoming their compatriots back and saluting them for their achievements, we are here heaping praise on ours for participating.

The Minister of Youth and sports, Hon. Nii Lante Vanderpuye is reported to have said that he is happy with the performance of our athletes as they have gained experience. I’m a little baffled by the Minister’s reported comments being a sportsman himself and a politician. Is he telling Ghanaians that his party the National Democratic Party (NDC) is going into Elections 2016 not to win but to add to the numbers?

Jacob Okine, a Ghanaian living in Germany believes with this attitude, Ghana can only win medals if when oware and ludo were introduced to the Olympics. To Anthony Tieku (Ruutman), even if the games were to continue for a year, Ghana would not a wooden medal. To Eva Mammon-Halm, our athletes need serious coaching. To Eric Husni-Ewudzi, we are not doing well because of the over-concentration on football. Ghanaians are not happy with mediocrity. Chaucer admonishes us that if you have nothing to say, keep quiet!

Pic: Neymar and two of his mates revel in the Gold medal they had won

Pic: Neymar and two of his mates revel in the Gold medal they had won

Did you watch the award ceremony after Brazil defeated Germany in the football final? The emotions on show, man! Nobody goes to the Olympics just for the sake of participating anymore. The games stand for excellence. All over, nations are welcoming back their athletes with pride for what they achieved while we are welcoming our own for participating! Hmm, what mediocrity! Stop lying to us. Ghana, where is our gold? We failed!   Period!



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