SPRINTER JANET Amponsah was over the weekend crowned the Women’s Athlete of the Year.
At the awards ceremony held at Kempiski Hotel Gold Coast City on Saturday, Ms Amponsah beat competition from the likes of new sensation Hor Halutie to win the award for the second time in three years.
National 800m record holder, Alex Amankwah, was crowned the Male Athlete of the Year.
Halutie and Emmanuel Yeboah grabbed the maiden Rising Stars award meant for locally-based male and female athletes respectively.
Three veteran Ghanaian para-sports athletes, Raphael Botsyo Nkegbe, Alem Mumuni and Patrick Yaw Obeng, were also honoured for their commitment to the growth and development of para-sports in Ghana.
The Third Liquid Sports Ghana Awards saw the trio presented with special individual plaques designed and manufactured in the USA purposely for the award ceremony.
Obeng, who is regarded as one of the pioneers of para-sports in Ghana, has received medals at every single All Africa Games since 2003, while Nkegbe is the first Ghanaian to have competed at the Olympic Games and holds the record for most appearances at the Olympics after competing at the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games; with Alem Mumuni as the first African paracyclist to have competed at the Olympics at London 2012.
In a spontaneous move in appreciation of the efforts by the veteran athletes, the Indian Women’s Association of Ghana (IWA) – who were represented by four of their members at the event – presented GH¢500.00 to each of the para-sports athletes as a gift.
IWA also surprised many when they presented a cheque for $6,000 to three-time Olympian Nkegbe for the purchase of a new racing chair to enable him to compete favourably on the international stage.
A key highlight of the awards was an awe-inspiring speech by para wheelchair specialist Obeng, who made a passionate appeal to the nation to support para-sports athletes who are among some of the most disadvantaged in society.
He said the case where Black Stars players were showered with Jeeps and thousands of dollars for winning silver at the African Nations Cup while para-sports athletes were given no bonuses for also winning silver medals at the All Africa Games did not augur well for the development of the sport.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bella Bello Bitugu, Director of Sports at the University of Ghana, Legon, and the Indian Women’s Association of Ghana were awarded with the ‘Leadership and Excellence awards’ respectively for their individual contribution to sports development in Ghana.
The athletics awards was voted for by an international cast of athletics experts, including renowned Ghanaian journalist Karl Tuffuor; Citi FM’s Fentuo Tahiru; the President of the Ghana Triathlon Federation, Bawah Fuseini; Carole Fuchs, Managing Editor of www.africathle.com; Online Editor, TV3 Network; Emmanuel Kwame Amoh; Yemi Olus, Senior writer at Nigeria’s Making of Champions-a Sports Media & Management Company; renowned Ghanaian athletics coaches Salamatu Musah; and Chris Amankrah- who doubles at the Chairman of the Greater Accra Athletics Association.
The awards – the first of its kind in Ghana which focuses on athletics and para sports – were aimed at throwing the spotlight on athletes who excel in representing the country both locally and internationally to inspire the younger generation.