when the starter's gun blasts for the commencement of track and field events of the Olympic Games, Ghana will be gunning for her first athletics medal, with Ignatius Gaisah and Akosua Serwah as prospective medallists. Gaisah, the All Africa Games long jump champion, and 800mrunner,Akosua Serwah,could provide a balm over an injury crisis that has hit Ghana's men's 400-metre relay team.
As African champion and the continent's record holder, Gaisah's 8.40m performance in long jump just days leading to the start of the Games has placed him third best at the competition, and could guarantee him, at least, a bronze from Athens.At one of their last trial meets during the team's training camp in Cologne,Germany-based Serwah maintained the form that had earned her a time just below 2.58 seconds, and a subsequent safe berth in the Olympic 800m participation.
In fact, she is just some four seconds away from the world record.But while the two have entered their best elements moments before the start of the athletics championships, Ghana's shorter relay squad is grappling with the delayed recovery of sprinters, Leo Myles-Mills and Eric Nkansah, from thigh injuries.
What appeared ordinary muscle sprains on their training tour of Cologne have failed to heal, according to sources close to the team in Athens, and have forced Ghanaian officials to buy the services of an expatriate physiotherapist from Germany to attempt a last-minute revival of hopes for both Myles-Mills and Nkansah to make it into the relay team.
In Abuja, Nkansah started the 100m x 4 while Myles-Mills ran the anchor leg in the final when Ghana beat Nigeria to the gold medal in the race nourished by charged emotions. In their places, in case they are unable to recover, Coach S. S. Atuahene will seek intervention from substitutes Tanko Braimah and Samuel Adade to take Ghana beyond the semi-final.
And that could be a decisive moment for the coach who will be missing the services of Ernest Osei, a member of the team at Abuja, but dropped under strange circumstances just before the team left Germany for Athens. When Myles-Mills nursed an injury again at the All Africa Games, Osei stepped in at the semi finals and, indeed, started the race that sent Ghana into the gold-winning final.
He, however, finds no place among the options in Athens, and can now watch from afar following the exhaustion of the six places for each country's relay team.The relay squad, which missed the chance of a possible medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996 under embarrassing circumstances, is rated 15th out of the 16 teams to participate in the event at the Olympics.