The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow have just 99 days before they begin, and while the international, multi-sport event will feature a number of athletes from the 53 nations who belong to the Commonwealth, there will be one new athlete holding the banner for Ghana: Jedidiah Amoako-Ackah. In fact, Amoako-Ackah will be Ghana’s first track cyclist for the competition.
Born in Asamankeese, Ghana, the 22-year-old Scotland resident is a student at the University of Chichester in England, studying Sports Therapy.
While Amoako-Ackah will be readying himself to join his competition in 12 events at the Sir Hoy Velodrome this summer, from July 23 to August 3rd, surprisingly, he only began competing professionally less than a year ago.
When asked what inspired him to become Ghana’s first track cyclist, Amoako-Ackah told Face2Face Africa that the 2008 Beijing Olympics had a lasting effect on him, “I was a fan of the sport for many years and enjoyed cycling, but I never considered competing until last year, when the opportunity came to represent Ghana. I can remember watching the British team at the Olympics in Beijing 2008, it was captivating and very inspiring.”
Since deciding to compete in the Commonwealth Games, Amoako-Ackah has been performing weekly strength and condition sessions at a local gym in Glasgow. For his sprinting and speed endurance efforts, though, Amoako-Ackah trains at the aformentioned Velodrome.
As for why he selected the Commonwealth to make his debut, Amoako-Ackah says that the support he has been given by his local community and the prestigiousness of the competition is what prompted him to take the plunge, “The availability of the Velodrome and assistance from several local businesses in Glasgow has enabled me to choose this year’s games as my first major competition. It’s a great honor to represent my country, and I hope to put in a performance that will exemplify the excellence synonymous with Ghana.”
In the last Commonwealth Games in 2010, Ghanaians who did their country proud were Anita Fordjour, who won a bronze in the Women’s 1,500 meters; Ignisious Gaisah, who won a bronze in the Men’s long jump, Awusone Yekeni, who won a bronze in boxing; and the Women’s track team (Rosina Amenebede, Elizabeth Amolofo, Beatrice Gyaman, and Janet Amponsah), who won a silver in the 4×100 meter relay.
And while any competitive athlete would want to nab a medal, Amoako-Ackah is using his professional introduction as an opportunity to further develop his skills, “Participating at the Commonwealth Games is part of my athletic development and will give me an insight in to the quality and level of competition at the international level.
“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and will be instrumental in my development toward the Rio De Janeiro 2016 Olympics. Although winning a medal is not on the ‘agenda,’ anything can happen, and I’ll do my best for Ghana.”
In addition to his personal goals, Amoako-Ackah also has a vision that extends to his homeland. He hopes that competing on an international stage will bring cycling to the attention of Ghana as a sport to invest in, while helping to further encourage the already burgeoning cycling culture at home, “I hope to raise the interest of the Ghana cycling federation and all concerned to invest in the sport of track cycling with development programs and infrastructure, such as the Accra Velodrome Project, which is an initiative to build Ghana’s first velodrome as part of the development of the sport. This is a long-term project and will require the partnership of the Ghana Cycling Federation and the respective ministers of sport.
“In addition, I believe this will be a great platform for promoting Ghana and its progressive cycling culture. Finally, my dream is to assemble Ghana’s first track cycling team, ready for the 2016 Olympics.”
Keep up with Amoako-Ackah on his website and on Facebook.
We are rooting for you, Jeddie!