African Games 2023: “Self-sponsored” Ghanaian cyclists criticise their poor performance on subpar equipment. - Onlinetimesgh

African Games 2023: “Self-sponsored” Ghanaian cyclists criticise their poor performance on subpar equipment.

On Sunday, national champion Michael Naaba withdrew from the cycling competition owing to a malfunctioning bicycle.

Shortly after takeoff, the tube connecting Naaba’s bike ruptured.

With no spare bicycle available, Ghana’s champion was forced to abandon the race.

“It’s the same equipment I have been training with. I’ve been training on this highway. Every day after work. Before work too (at dawn),”

“But the issue was the tube. Its the same tube I’ve been using for training and I had to use it for the competition because I had no option” he concluded.

In June 2023, Michael Naaba won the 2023 National Cycling Championship in Ho, Volta.

Although the squad consists of twenty riders (12 men and eight women), Naaba’s success at the tournament and the subsequent event, the Tour du Burkina Faso, made him Ghana’s best shot for a medal in the men’s cycling event.

Naaba, who rides for the Accra-based FCG Cycling Club, is not the only Ghanaian rider who has paid for their own bicycles and footwear.

Alberta Adobea is one of Ghana’s self-supported national cyclists.

“If you look at the approved bicycles for this competition, they’re all made with fibre. But ours are all aluminium bikes which are heavier and more difficult to ride.

“So that gives our competitors an advantage because the fibre made bikes are lighter and easier to handle,” she concluded.

Apart from utilising outdated, aluminium bicycles and paying for their own boots, Ghana’s riders were forced to wear old clothing because the Federation was unable to obtain new ones.

“We paid for our own footwear, the outfits we’re wearing are all old stuff”

“This was tough because of the challenges with logistics. All the bicycles we used are personal bicycles. We bought them with our own monies” she concluded.

This is a new low for Ghana, which has previously experienced problems with cycling equipment at major competitions.

In March 2018, Peter Spencer, a Queensland-based local bike owner, had to launch a fundraising campaign to provide proper equipment for Ghana at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

He made the decision after seeing that Ghana’s cyclists were utilising subpar equipment at the Commonwealth Games.

Then-Deputy Director of the National Sports Authority, Robert Sarfo Mensah, maintained the Ghanaian team had no equipment issues.

“Let us ignore the bad press about the team. The cyclists traveled with their cycles from the last edition of the Olympic Games and they are not totally damaged as is being reported.”

However, the Cycling Federation’s President, Mohammed Sahnoon, knew better.

He, unlike Sarfo-Mensah, a political appointee, felt a feeling of responsibility to his staff. Not blind loyalty to anything. Or anyone.

He realised the difference between what Ghana’s cyclists used and what their opponents would be riding. quotes him as having said:”The bicycles we brought to Australia for the Commonwealth Games are not broken. They may not be up to Australian standards but we brought bicycles.”

The team’s coach was also busy in Brazil with other commitments.

“We came here with a coach but he is handling some classifications in Brazil. He will join us soon.” He concluded.

So far, neither the Sports Ministry nor the Cycling Federation have addressed the logistical problems.

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