From playing on concrete floor to earning a Rio scholarship:the story of Daniel Sam

Daniel SamA lot of emotions run through his head after news broke about his selection for an Olympic scholarship to prepare and qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Ghana’s number 1 badminton player Daniel Sam, who is hoping to make the most of the Rio Olympic scholarship, says the journey has not been an easy one.

“I feel very good about this,” he said in an interview with www.ghanaolympic.org adding that, “It is a very big story: a player who has been playing on concrete has been selected for this scholarship.

Sam’s selection followed his stellar performances on the African continent and at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from 2012 to 2014.

He was one of Team Ghana’s stand-out performers at Glasgow Games after reaching the Round of 16 in the badminton singles event.

Sam was also one of 14 players from the African continent, who were recommended for scholarships by the African Badminton Federation after participating in the Africa Badminton Seniors championship in Mauritius from 13-20 August, 2013.

He subsequently paired with Solomon Nyarko to win a bronze medal for Ghana at the 2011 All Africa Games, in Maputo.

Background

Born in the Port City of Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region, Sam took to the sport as duck takes to water at the tender age of 4.

As he recalls, the sport came naturally to him as his uncle Enoch Blavo and his senior brother Solomon Mensah were both former national badminton champions. While Enoch continues to work at Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA) in Takoradi, Solomon is now based in the USA.

The youngster’s talent greatly developed his talent under the tutelage of nationally acclaimed badminton coach, Jacob Wilson. He played in the junior ranks, winning a singles gold medal at the African Junior Championship in Egypt 2008 and a doubles silver medal at the African U-19 Championship-2009 in Ethiopia, among others.

One of the major highlight of his senior career was when he clinched a doubles bronze medal at the 2011 All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.

Gratitude

Sam is hoping to make the most of the IOC Scholarship for the Rio Games but acknowledges that competitions have been hard to come by for him in recent years due to funding constraints

“At first, I did not have any help from anybody. Sometimes I participated in only one competition in the whole year. It was not easy. The IOC scholarship will help push me to go higher. I want to thank the Ghana Olympic Committee for this opportunity. I will work hard and make it to the Games

I have to attend some major competitions to accumulate points and increase my chances of qualifying for Rio. I hope to attend some of the major competitions.

Future

Asked about his future prospects, the Sekondi-Takoradi based player said he wants to play with the top players in the world and also reach the highest level in the sport.

“I want to be number one in the world. My dream is to play the top players in Malaysia and Indonesia just like the South African player Jacob Maliekal,” he Sam summed up.

 

Profile:

Name: Daniel Sam

Age: 21 years

Unemployed

Based in Takoradi.

Coach Jacob Wilson.

Achievements from 2008 to 2014:

2008: Singles gold at the African Juniors Championship in Egypt & Doubles silver

2009: Silver in doubles, silver in mixed doubles –U19 in Ethiopia.

2010: Uganda International. Mixed doubles silver and Doubles bronze

2011: Maputo All Africa Games: Doubles Bronze

2014: Nigerian International: Bronze in doubles and mixed doubles.

2014: Round of 16 finish, beaten by Malaysian ranked 27th in the world

 

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