Abigail Kwarteng: The comeback girl from the “Class of 2014”

Abigail KwartengHigh jumper Abigail Kwarteng is the latest junior athlete from the “Class of 2014” to gain national recognition after qualifying for the 2016 Confederation of African Athletics Championships in South Africa with a jump of 1.77m at the GAA Open Championships on Saturday, 20th February, 2016.

From finishing seventh in the high jump with a jump of 1.50m at the 2014 African Youth Games (AYG) to qualifying for the CAA Championships, her inspiring story will go a long way to prove to many that given the right foundation and determination, one can always make a big comeback in his/her career.

Background

When the Ghana Olympic Committee sponsored a group of 21 young talented athletes to participate in the African Youth Games in Botswana in May, 2014, the aim was to develop the next generation of Ghanaian athletes.

The competition, which was reserved exclusively for athletes between the ages of 16 and 17 years, was also meant to give the youngsters much needed international exposure and prepare them for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China later in that year.

Team Ghana, made up of 21 athletes and 10 officials, were on a mission to make the country proud in six sporting disciplines, including athletics, weightlifting, badminton, swimming, table tennis and cycling.

The class of 2014With funding from the Ghana Olympic Committee, Team athletics comprised Martha Bissah-800m, Sarah Owu- 5000m, Anastasia Mensah-Javelin throw, Richard Seklorwu- Long jump, Felicia Frimpong-Long jump and Happy Abruyah—400.

The others included Janet Mensah-100m/200m, Godfred Kofitse- 100m/200m, Abigail Kwarteng- High jump, and Precious Attipoe- Triple jump. Five other disciplines made the trip to the Southern African nation but the spot light was nonetheless on the athletics team.

For a vast majority of the athletes, this was the first time they were travelling outside the shores of the country and the cold conditions in Gaborone made life a little unbearable for them. Indeed, they were given a cold reception by the weather conditions at the University Of Botswana Games Village.

After adapting to the weather, food and their new environment, sprinter Janet Mensah and Precious Attipoe grabbed silver in the girl’s 100m final and boy’s triple jump respectively, while Martha Bissah won bronze in the 800m.

The team also recorded two 4th place finishes in the shape of Felicia Frimpong and Richard Seklorwu in the girl’s and boy’s long jump events respectively.

International laurels

It is noteworthy that from the group of ten athletes presented by Team Ghana, two of them have gone onto to international acclaim: namely Martha Bissah and Richard Seklorwu.

Bissah won Ghana first ever Olympic gold medal at any level at the Nanjing Youth Olympics Games while Seklorwu won Ghana’s first Commonwealth Youth Games gold at the 2015 Samoa Games.

Abigail Kwarteng: From seventh place finish with 1.50m to CAA Champs qualification (1.77m)

Despite finishing seventh in the high jump, Abigail Kwarteng is back with a bang.

Kwarteng is the latest junior athlete from the “Class of 2014” to gain national recognition after qualifying for the 2016 Confederation of African Athletics Championships in South Africa.

From a seventh place finish with a mark of 1.50m in the cold conditions at Gaborone, the youngster has made good progress in her athletics career.

“When I went to Botswana, my performance was not very good and if I was somebody, I would have given up.   When I came back home, there was no help. I had no coach who could help me. But I still had a passion for the game and I continued,” she said.

The former junior athlete qualified for the 2016 CAA Championships after clearing 1.77m (PB) at the Ghana Athletics Association Open Championships on Saturday, 20th February, 2016.

“In the University I had a coach, Robert Kotei, who is also a high jumper and he has been very good to me. He is the one who has helped me even with my qualification.”

Her performance was made all the more remarkable because it represented a life time best, having last cleared 1.70m to win the high jump event at the Ghana University Sports Association(GUSA) competition held at Winneba.

“I’m very happy, very excited. And I knew I was going to do it before I came here. After my GUSA Games this year, I jumped 1.70m so when I was coming here I had a target that for now I had to qualify for this championship. My coach also did his best. He trained me very well. He encouraged me. Even when I was coming here, he kept calling me and reminding me I can make it.”

The University of Education Winneba student joins a list of athletes who have gone on to national and international acclaim after the 2014 African Games including 800m runner Martha Bissah and long jumper Richard Seklorwu.

Her latest achievement is bound to raise expectations about the prospects for the other athletes who were part of the group in Botswana.

More importantly, it has thought a lot of athletes the lesson that they can bounce back to form despite temporal setbacks and disappointments in their careers.

Below is the full list of the Class of 2014 Roll call:

Martha Bissah-800m

Sarah Owu- 3000m

Anastasia Mensah-Javelin throw

Richard Seklorwu- Long jump

Felicia Frimpong-Long jump

Happy Abruyah—400

Janet Mensah-100m/200m

Godfred Kofitse- 100m/200m

Abigail Kwarteng- High jump

Precious Attipoe- Triple jump

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