From Wednesday, August 25th to September 5th, some of the world’s most elite disabled athletes participated in the world’s most notable international multi-sport event, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
These unique two weeks allowed these extraordinary athletes to compete for gold and, more importantly, showcase their dedication, resilience and training through adversity and uncertainty throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, some acknowledgment must be given to the chosen courageous Ghanaian athletes. They worked hard to qualify for their respective events, with three para-athletes earning the chance to represent #TeamGhana on an Olympic level.
Emmanuel Nii Tetteh Oku, who is a powerlifter, was the flag bearer. #JoySports
EMMANUEL NII TETTEH OKU
Flag Bearer Emmanuel “Da Survivor” Nii Tetteh Oku (30 years old) represented Ghana in the Men’s 72kg Para-Powerlifting competition. Emmanuel was unfortunately shot working as a palace guard, resulting in the amputation of his left leg.
After a successful performance in his event on August 28th, he became the first-ever Ghanaian athlete to set a Paralympic record in powerlifting. Emmanuel previously won a bronze medal competing in Manchester at the 2020 World Para Powerlifting World Cup.
His composure and professional performance not only earned his country a seventh-place position in the category but inspired an anonymous Japanese philanthropist to donate USD$5000 to the Ghanaian paralympic debutant.
Yusif, Ghana’s previous flag bearer during the 2016 Rio Paralympics and 2017 para-athlete of the year (Ghanaian Sports Writers Association), fought hard competing in the T42 High Jump event on August 31st. Ranking 9th (an improvement from his previous 11th place result in Rio), he is a proven hard worker, even going to the lengths of practicing his high jump on a mattress when he didn’t have the facilities.
T42 is a classification of disability for track and jump events where the athlete has an above-knee amputation or a disability that is comparable.
The condition of Yusif’s left leg is a result of the severe debilitating effects of polio. He is an advocate for disabled athletes and has made consistent appeals to the Ghanaian government for more support and better resources for sportsmen and women who have the potential to win medals/trophies for the nation.
Finally we have Frederick Assor who competed in the men’s B4000m individual pursuit in Para-cycling.
The visually impaired para-cyclist came in 12th during the qualifiers on August 26th with a recorded time of 6 minutes and 28.302 seconds. Unfortunately, this time did not see him qualify therefore he did not progress in the competition.
He attributed his loss to a lack of preparation by the National Paralympic Committee, even having to use a borrowed tandem cycle in the qualifying event. Regardless of his frustrations, the 36-year old’s love for the sport has not faded.
Regardless of their position or prestige, each of these athletes has accomplished something that even people without a disability would struggle to achieve. Demonstrating that setbacks, no matter how big or small, cannot stand in your way while your persevere towards your goals.
As the Paralympics drew to a close on September 5th, a celebration was no doubt in order for each of these athletes and other individuals who struggle with similar disabilities or handicaps in this generation and the next.