Ghana’s participation at the forthcoming World Indoor Championships has received a massive boost, following Sean Safo-Antwi’s clearance by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) earlier this week, to compete for his homeland.
The 25-year old was born to Ghanaian parents in Great Britain and as such, possesses dual citizenship. He has represented Britain at international level in the past, but is now set to make his first international outing for Ghana at next week’s World Indoors in Portland, where he will compete in the 60m.
Safo-Antwi won the 60m ahead of European champion, Richard Kilty and USA’s Michael Rodgers at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix last month. He also finished 3rd at the British Championships, and set a Personal Best (PB) of 6.55s in the 60m in Mondeville, France, last month.
According to Making of Champions’ findings, the sprinter had indicated his interest to run for Ghana, and following subsequent discussions with the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA), he officially wrote to the body late last year, signifying his readiness to transfer allegiance. He then made a request to the IAAF in January, with the UK Athletics giving assent to his appeal.
Andrew Owusu, a member of GAA’s executive board, representing Ghana’s foreign-based athletes, believes that Safo-Antwi’s addition to the team is a great move, which will have a direct impact on Ghana’s fortunes ahead of Rio 2016.
Safo-Antwi has already met the entry standard for the Rio 2016 Olympics, having posted a time of 10.16s in July 2015. He is only the second Ghanaian to have qualified for the Games after 800m runner, Alex Amankwah did same last year. It is also believed that he will be a great asset to the men’s 4x100m relay team as they seek qualification for Rio.
Owusu said, “After discussions with IAAF on technicalities concerning eligibility date, he was cleared for immediate approval to compete for Ghana. His impact will be immediate because I believe he is a strong contender at the continental level and, if his current indoor form is any indication, he has potential to make the Olympic final or at least semi-final.”
Owusu, who is the African Championships Record holder in the Triple Jump and also Ghana’s Team Coach for horizontal jumps, says Antwi-Safo will continue to train abroad until the National Trials.
He also disclosed that the GAA is open to receiving athletes of Ghanaian heritage, resident in other countries, but will not do so at the expense of developing home-grown talent:
“Well, the GAA strategy is to welcome all eligible athletes, but not at the expense of development at the local level. We treat all our athletes the same, meaning we don’t entice eligible athletes with anything beyond what is available to all athletes.
“For us, team chemistry across all levels is important. We are also mentoring the top athletes to be more responsible for the younger ones in the development chain, and this enhances unity within the team. Unity is the current hallmark of our team”, he said.
Isn’t it about time any of James Dasaolu, Chijindu Ujah or Ojie Edoburun towed Safo-Antwi’s path, by taking a pop at making a switch to Nigeria? They have nothing to lose, do they?
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