Ghana’s global recognition in sport is largely based on football but young swimmers Abeiku Jackson and Kaya Forson wants to change that.
The 16-year-old Jackson is heading to Brazil to compete in the blue riband 50m freestyle with Kaya Forson, a 14-year-old based in Spain.
Both competed at the world championships last year.
They couldn’t meet the Olympics qualifying time but managed a ticket on the universality system.
In the next Olympics my main goal is to go to semi finals, prove that I'm the best in Ghana.
Abeiku started swimming at age three.
Abeku’s best time for the 50m freestyle is nearly four seconds off the current world record held by Brazil’s Cesar.
But his participation in Rio has a wider aim: inspiring other Ghanaians to compete in the future.
“In the next Olympics my main goal is to go to semi finals, prove that I’m the best in Ghana and I’m the best in the world. And give them the best shot ever.
“You have to commit to the sport, you have to make sure you know your goals, you have plans, set plans for yourself, otherwise I don’t think you are a complete swimmer,” Abeiku Jackson said.
In 2003, the fear of water for his father and coach got his family into the pool.
Since then he has beco me the coach of his three sons’ swimming team in Accra, the Ghana Dolphins, and also a national team coach.
Balancing the two roles is difficult he says.
“Being a coach and being a father at the same time, it’s a bit difficult. It’s a bit difficult not so much for me as for the child. Because you are in the child’s face all the time; you are in his face as his father, you are in his face as his coach, you are in his face as his nutritionist, you are in his face as his chief advisor. And sometimes you find that the child is getting confused.
“You as the father sometimes you need to step back and ask other people to help you to do it so that you, he sees you at times as a coach. Over the next three Olympics, starting from 2016, our plan is that in 2016, he’ll participate, and 2020, I expect him to get to semi-finals and 2024, I expect him to hit the medal,” his father, Kodwo Abbiw Jackson said
In much of Africa’s growing sporting countries, competitive swimming is simply not a priority.
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