Ghana’s athletics coach, Elorm Amenakpor, is confident that the country’s contingent at the upcoming World Athletics Championship will be competing for honours and not just be in Budapest to make up the numbers.
For him, the target will be a place on the medal podium and he insists Ghana has competent athletes capable of holding their own among the world’s elite at the August 19- 27 competition in the Hungarian capital.
Coach Amenakpor, who is an assistant sprints coach at the West Texas A&M University, has been tasked to guide the sprinters to achieve success in Budapest, and as such over the last week he has been leading the athletes through their regimen at a training camp at CREPS de Reims in France.
This training camp is a partnership between the French Government and Ghana Athletics towards the 2024 Paris Olympics Games.
Ghana’s contingent comprises athletes Joseph Paul Amoah (200m, 4x100m), James Dadzie (200m, 4x100m), Sarfo Ansah (4x100m), Isaac Botsio (4x100m relay), Edwin Gadayi (4x100m), Deborah Acquah (long jump), Aziz Mohammed (1,500m), Solomon Diafo (400m), Florence Agyemen (400m) and Raymond French (400m).
With the experienced sprinter, Benjamin Azamati, out of the competition due to a groin injury, new sensation Dadzie has emerged as Ghana’s best bet in the individual races after setting a new national 200m record of 19.97 seconds which is among the top to fastest times of the year.
However, the Ghanaian trainer says Ghana’s bet for a medal is likely to come in the men’s 4x100m relay despite the absence of experienced Azamati who competed at last year’s competition in Eugene, Oregon.
“We are not just going there to add to the numbers; we qualified on merit and we are going to compete at our very best at the World Championship.
We have a bright prospect in the 4x100m relay where philosophy in the baton is the most important… that’s how fast you change your pattern is most important,” he told the Graphic Sports in an interview from France.
Despite his high expectation, the coach says they will be pursuing their dreams systematically by ensuring they qualify to the final of the sprints relay before taking their chances.
“I hope that they qualify to the next stage of each race and then the 4x100m, which happens to be our stronghold.
“We are working hard to qualify to the next stage and then you can only talk about winning a medal or be on the podium. So that is why that is where our focus is right now.”
“We want to get into the final and then when we get to the final then we are going to compete for the ultimate,” he assured.
Even though new sensation Dadzie will be competing at the world event for the first time, he has not been very active in the last two months just as his teammates. However, the coach maintains Ghana has quality to fall on in Budapest.
“Every athlete selected for the world championship qualified on merit and so we are going to compete against the best. “We have a lot of good athletes in our team, we have run some good times in April and now we are in France preparing towards the World Championship.”
At the 2022 Commonwealth Games Ghana was disqualified from the men’s 4x100m final due to technical errors. In previous competitions, poor baton changing has undermined the team’s chances of winning medals. This time, the coach is hoping the training camp would help address the defects.
“That’s what we are working on right now, to try to change baton in difficult situations, to get used to the team, to build team cohesion, team spirit and everything that will give us advantage to compete against the world at the World Championship.”