Ghana's boxing legend, Barima Azumah Nelson, and some of Africa's sporting luminaries were honoured last Saturday night at the inaugural All Africa Sports Awards held at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra.
Azumah, a three-time world boxing champion, received the wildest applause from the audience on that grand setting where the 'Professor of Boxing' shared the same stage as Kenyan middle distance legend, Kip Keino, who was also honoured for his distinguished role in putting Africa on the world athletics map several decades ago.
The All Africa Sports Awards were initiated by Mr Al Hamilton of the Commonwealth Sports Foundation in partnership with the [email protected] Secretariat to recognise and to honour Africa's finest sports personalities in the last 50 years.
The event was held as part of Ghana's 50th independence anniversary celebration. It may have lacked the production finesse that the organisers, Media Whizz Kidz, are noted for but the significance of the occasion was not lost on the few nominees present and the invited guests representing the sporting, corporate and government officials, who were all immaculately dressed to suit such a grand occasion.
Leading sports editors and other key stakeholders were involved in the selection of the winners, with the nominees representing an assembly of Africa's finest sporting heroes ranging from Olympic champions through world champions to world record holders, Commonwealth and Africa champions cutting across various generations.
Keino, presently the head of the Kenyan Olympic Committee, won the Male Athletics award from a strong field that comprised legends like Frankie Fredericks, Haile Gebrselassie, Paul Tergat, Said Aouita, and Tanzanian Filbert Bayi.
The women's award went to Mozambique's Maria Mutola, with other winners being Angola (basketball), South Africa (rugby and cricket), Nigeria (women's football), Cameroun (men's football), IAAF President Lamine Diack (administration), Filbert Bayi (humanitarian), Frank Boahene of Green Grass Technology (technical) and Black Stars (special award).
Former Jamaican Olympian and First Vice-Chairman of the Jamaica Athletics Association, Grace Jackson, charged Ghana and other African countries to open more doors to increase women's participation in all areas of sports administration.
The Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah, stated that having played a major role in sports on the continent, Ghana was committed to reaching the desired objectives and goals of the African Union in the development and promotion of sports.
Story by Maurice Quansah