Five places available with the country’s leading player, Derek Abrefa already selected, it was tense competition in the D. G. Hathiramani Hall at the Accra Sports Stadium to decide the remaining places, three men and two women, for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games to be staged in Gold Coast, Australia from Wednesday 4th to Sunday 15th April.
Supervised by Anthony Owusu-Ansah, Ghana’s head coach, on Saturday 3rd February, the final list was decided.
by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Press Officer
According to Nathaniel Kwesi Somuah, Media Officer for the Ghana Table Tennis Association, the matches were keenly contested with Benard Joe Sam, Felix Lartey and Emmanuel Asante completing the Men’s Team; Celia Baah-Danso and Cynthia Kwabia securing the two female places.
Notably for the women, Ghana’s leading names Beatrice Gyasi, and Bernice Borley Borquaye, who played in 2014 in Glasgow, departed in the first qualification stage.
Likewise for the men, a prominent name in the guise of Emmanuel Commey failed to reserve a place as did other notables Samuel Akayade, Efua Oforiwah and Lynda Annor; pertinently for Emmanuel Asante it will be his Commonwealth Games debut.
“The trials were in two phases. The first phase had 11 top men and 10 top women. We pruned the number down to the top six in each category. It was an all-play-all system. The cumulative points from both phases in the trials determined the final ranking. It’s been a very good exercise for the players that we paraded. On the whole, I would say the players exhibited high levels of performance which if they are able to do same at the Commonwealth Games then I am sure we will go far.” Anthony Owusu-Ansah
“We have a quota of four players for the men and two for the women. We gave our top player, Derek Abrefa an automatic slot. If you check his records from 2016 to present, he has won almost all top competitions he has played in and he keeps excelling beyond our imagination and keeps going far. We also have Benard Joe Sam. He topped the competition. Felix Lartey took the third slot. Our young up and coming Emmanuel Asante took the fourth slot. In the women’s category, Celia Baah-Danso and Cynthia Kwabi came through.” Anthony Owusu-Ansah.
“I know these players will definitely project the image of Ghana high in the international arena. I have high hopes in the Men’s Team event and any team that meets Ghana will realize they have met worthy ambassadors. Our target is to reach the quarter-finals of each competition and perform wonders.” Anthony Owusu-Ansah
“I feel great qualifying for my third Commonwealth Games; I participated in my first Commonwealth Games in Melbourne 2006. I started preparing for the Commonwealth Games last year during the national league. My performance during the trials didn’t come as a surprise to me because I really had a strategy and it worked perfectly well for me.” Benard Joe Sam
“It’s an honour qualifying to represent my country once again in the Commonwealth Games. It didn’t come easy for me as I had to plan for each match. I am glad I performed well and it is my hope that I will be able to help my team achieve results.” Felix Lartey.
“I’m very happy and amazed at my performance. I must admit hard work and perseverance have brought me this far. I really put in a lot of effort during the training camp and the results have shown in my qualification. This tournament affords me an opportunity to build on my international experience; I hope I can help Ghana to win medals,” Emmanuel Asante.
“I’m ready for Gold Coast. The trial was very tough and I’m excited, I managed first place in the overall ranking. I trained very hard and I was focused throughout the entire matches. Training makes the battle easy. I feel so much joy in my heart. It is a dream come true to qualify for my second Commonwealth Games.” Celia Baah-Danso.
“It’s really exciting to have qualified. It has been my toughest trials so far. I had to come from behind to grab this very important second slot. I prepared myself psychologically, physically and financially for the matches. I psyched myself that I can make it no matter my condition. I spent a lot of money in buying equipment for training. I had to train well to shed off some weight in order to catch up the level of play after a long maternity break. The training helped a lot; it showed in my matches. I was able to exhibit all my techniques and skills. Ghanaians should expect the best from me and I will raise the flag of Ghana high in Australia.” Cynthia Kwabi.
After collecting a bronze medal at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville; Ghana is seeking its first medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.