Sports Features of 2014-07-26

Are we serious about the Commonwealth Games?

Oh, merciful and compassionate heavenly King, we need just a drop of your blessing on this our sportingly confused land! All over the place, we just do not know our fate even though other lands are gunning for more successes after the wonderful sporting event in Brazil.

Indeed, if what I saw last Sunday afternoon on the screen as I watched the Super Sports live coverage of the Sansbury's Anniversary Games at Horse Guards Arena in London, England, is the criteria of what the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in Scotland is all about, then we have to re-write our notes and reshuffle our thinking.

I watched the Games critically, and the question that came to mind was whether we are really serious and whether there was any hope for our compatriots who are in Glasgow as our representatives.

The question is, did our athletic association and other associations under the aegis of the National Sports Authority (NSA) do enough tests to satisfy themselves of the standards needed for such games, and how closely they checked to the pin-point of their time and distance before embarking on the trip? We do not want to anticipate some of the disgrace we experienced as a nation in recent international competitions.

It has not been quite long when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) slapped a ban on our dear country for what was purported to be a political interference in its structures.

The result was very unpalatable and the ramifications unpleasant. I must say we have not regained our composure since that time. It took a hell of breath-taking energy and diplomatic wranglings to get us out of the ban, and since then, a lot of the power and force that we previously exhumed at various international fields have abysmally deserted us.

Every ardent follower of our fortunes at the sporting field knows we are no more a force to reckon with, and for that matter, we had to re-organise ourselves very well.

The ban took away the steam and all of us have felt unpleasant as we embark on games of high standards. And to add insult to injury, some of our best athletes started defecting and enriching other countries, and as such we went to Glasgow games without our celebrated and award-winning long jumper such as Ignatius Gaisah and our heptathlon queen Margaret Simpson and sprinters of high pedigree such as Vidah Anim, Eric Nkansah and Akosua Serwaa who started losing interest at certain stage, citing the Athletic Association's disinterest in their welfare.

And the question is whether we are participating in the Glasgow Games anticipating those honours we enjoyed in the past, looking back as we did at the Kingston and Edinburgh games during which a lot was done about our qualifying standards as athletes and boxers and members of other disciplines.

Today, we talk about swimming team, track cycling, power-lifting, shooting, judo, table tennis, weight-lifting and other unfamiliar events which could be described as toddlers in our sporting circles.

Are these events going to brighten our chances of winning medals in Glasgow, or were they sent there just to test their skills and gain some exposure or just take part in the opening ceremony and receive applause?

The world of celebrities and legends are certainly joining Heads of State to watch the Commonwealth games classified as second to the Olympic games, and our expectation is that the Queen of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II will be there to acknowledge our presence and remember the good old days when we posed a challenge to the best in athletics and boxing.

The Glasgow showcase will see on parade some of the greats who won medals at the 2012 London Olympic games such as Usain Bolt of Jamaica and his team of sprinters who won the 400-metre relay gold medals in London and their female counterparts led by spring queen, Shelly-Ann Frazer Pryce, who are poised to shatter the Commonwealth and world records. We are also expecting some amazing medal prospects from Nigeria, Australia and Canada.

It must be noted by now that we can't take the International Sporting bodies such as the Commonwealth Games Committee, the IOC and FIFA for granted, and their greatest bane is political interference in their federations the world over.

The powers-that-be must be wary of unnecessary display of authority as far as sports are concerned despite their role in financial support. The fact that every athlete or player at international forum is an ambassador of his or nation and is entitled to the national anthem as they receive their gold medals on the podium, the recognition of that nation is the sole benefit of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

The pride of the citizens of that country is enough compensation for the effort of their athletes. One amazing story of the present contingent is how National Sports Authority's Chief Athletic Coach was left to stay in office in Accra, while his charges are away in Glasgow, and that speaks of the suspicious nature of the selection as he knows better what the athletes passes through and who are qualified to be there and who are medal prospects.

Well, as we anticipate great Games which will witness a lot of good omen and the breaking of old records, let us have a good lot of open mind which will not create animosity and throw our blessings to the dogs at such international forums. God bless.

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