WHEN STARS SHINE
The success story of UG Cross Country……. The impossible dream………
Sports they say, is a cycle event. Today you dominate, tomorrow you struggle. What people don’t know is how Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology was once dominant in GUSA Cross Country, winning a record seven (7) titles in a row, yes seven (7)x. Their reign was ended by U.C.C led by ‘’ICE WATER’’ as he was popularly called. Now University of Ghana is the team every school wants to beat. It has not been that easy. In the air it will be turbulence, on waters, it will be a storm but we survived because we are stars and we are meant to shine.
UG Cross Country team announced themselves as an emerging Cross Country power house in 2007 in KNUST. This saw individual talents such as Attah Kodua Boateng, Mark Zangina, Hallo Emmanuel, Mohammed Afadja, Sarah Agyeniwaa, Millicent Awuku, Gloria e.t.c. who tried so hard to give their coaches something to be proud of. But these were individual talents and team work not talents wins Cross Country.
THE FAMILY OF STARS
The coming of Zakaria Abdul-Rauf, Jaspah Mawuli, David Akyea and a couple of foreign female students ahead of the 13th edition of GUSA Cross Country in UCC in 2008 proved to be promising. But again the team failed to win due to inexperience. Coach Opai said after placing second with less than 5 points; ‘my team is ready to win next year’.
So it came to pass. With intense training, experience and a hunger for success from both team mates and the new director (Dr. Owusu Ansah), UG won the 14th edition of GUSA Cross Country in UEW in 2009, the first in a series of successes to come. The female placed second, an improvement from their previous third. The male team followed up with another win in Tamale a year later.
The female team may have lost again but one thing was obvious, the team was full of freshers (Charity Osei, Portia Okyere, Ophelia Ansah in level 200 then, Maidatu Amoikor and Sarah Sue Roth, a visiting foreign student who also won Gold, Silver and Bronze in 10000, 5000, 1500m in WAUG TATT Championship in Nigeria a week earlier).
There came the first test after most of the guys have completed and the male team was expected to win again for the 3rd time and for keeps. All the team needed was few additions to Enoch Boadi, Charles Donkor, Frimpong Isaac and a couple of old guys who were now full of experience.
The timing couldn’t have been any better when Godwin Oduro Friko( a former GUSA Cross country and 1500m and WAUG 10000 n 5000m champion) and Akuka William (the then Milo Marathon champion) were admitted into the school. The female team could also boast of Faustina Gyimah, Megan Trainer, and some other international students. The male team continued the unbeaten run while the female team once again came second in UMaT in 2011.
University of Ghana brought GUSA cross country to a standstill in 2012 on home soil when they won male and female trophies thanks to two extra additions of Abigail Dzamesi and Elizabeth Opoku to boost the female team. The individual placement and performance combined to form a well refined winning team.
So for the past decade including the year (2013), University of Ghana can boast of six (6) trophies. Five (5) straight trophies (2009-2013) from the male team and one from the female team.
THE TECHNICAL TEAM
By 2009, the signature of Coach Opai was all over the team as he took individuals and moulded them into the dream team every school wanted to beat. Thank God he was rewarded with a trophy in 2009 before his departure to University of Ibadan for further studies.
Coach Helena was more than pleased to take over and ensured another trophy was delivered before her departure to UCC for further studies.
He was nicknamed the Cross Country Morinho and he coached the team to a hat trick of trophies, 2 from the male team and 1 from the female team in just two years. Coach Timothy Mensah, now current coach at University of Cape Coast (UCC) continued to build a formidable team based on teamwork and experience.
Call it a re-union, home coming or whatever. It ended up with a nervy and an excited run as UG collected another male trophy when Coach Opai and Coach Helena combined once more with Coach Henry Nii Sackey completing the triad and it was done with a combination of experience and inexperience (David Balami, Laurent Gadosse, John Baptist Akwanke, Daniel Yeboah, Yasmin Boatse nad Benonia Addy).
THE WAY FORWARD
The team is most focus now more than ever to break the 7 year unbeaten run of KNUST and every trophy won gets the team closer to the ultimate goal.