African Games 2023: “self-sponsored” Ghanaian cyclists blame poor showing on substandard equipment

Ghana’s national cycling team, the Golden Bikers, have struggled to compete at the ongoing African Games due to substandard equipment, cyclists have said.

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

Shortly after taking off, the tube connected to Naaba’s bike exploded.

With no spare bicycle available to the Ghanaian champion, he was left with no choice but to discontinue 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. It’s 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 region.

Although there are twenty cyclists – twelve men and eight ladies – in the team, Naaba’s performance at the tournament and the subsequent event – Tour du Burkina Faso, made him Ghana’s best bet for a medal in the men’s cycling event.

Naaba who rides for Ac­cra-based FCG Cycling Club is not the only Ghanaian cyclist to have paid for their own bicycles and footwear.

Alberta Adobea is one of Ghana’s self-sponsored 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 using old, aluminium bicycles and paying for their own footwear, Ghana’s cyclists had to wear old outfits following the Federation’s inability to procure fresh 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 who have had problems with cycling equipment at major tournaments in the past.

In March 2018, a Queensland-based local bike owner, Peter Spencer had to start a fundraiser to procure appropriate equipment for Ghana at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

He made the move after noticing that Ghana’s cyclists were using substandard equipment at the Commonwealth Games.

Then deputy director at the National Sports Authority, Robert Sarfo Mensah insisted the Ghanaian contingent had no challenges with equipment.

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

However, Mohammed Sahnoon, President of the Cycling Federation, knew better.

He, unlike Sarfo-Mensah, a political appointee, felt a sense of duty to his team. Not blind loyalty to whatever. Or whoever.

He knew the difference between what Ghana’s cyclists were using, and what their opponents would be riding.

He is quoted by to have 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 caught up in Brazil with other engagements.

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

Thus far, neither the Sports Ministry nor the Cycling Federation have commented on the logistical challenges.

Source: myjoyonline

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