“I want to get Ghana gold in Tokyo. so beginning from last year I have put in all my effort I can to prepare myself to get qualification”.
This was the very words of Raphael Nkegbe Botsyo, the first para-athlete from Ghana to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Speaking to Christian Chibueze on Eze1 TV’s Sports Connect Show, Nkegbe Botsyo expressed his preparedness towards representing Ghana in the world’s foremost sports competition.
“I am looking forward to representing Ghana for the fourth time. [I] not going there to just be a participant or just spectator. I want to win a medal for Volta and Ghana as a whole”.
The Ghanaian earned an automatic place spot for the world championship after winning the T54 World Wheelchair 100m race in the United States of America, thereby becoming the first Ghanaian to book a spot for the world championship.
Nkegbe Botsyo spoke on his journey to becoming an Olympian on Thursday night.
My father was transferred to the Brong Ahafo in 1993 so I moved with him and joined the Ghana Society of Physically Disabled, an NGO. One day I went to a meeting and they said they were doing sports. It was a little bit funny for me because [I thought] you need your legs to do sport.
I said what can I do without legs but later after joining I realized there’s something you can do with your upper body so developed interest in wheelchair basketball and racing.
The Ghanaian made his debut appearance at where the west African country participated for the first time in the Paralympics. According to Botsyo, being part of Ghana’s Paralympic team that debuted at Athens was a great experience for him.
“It was a historic and great experience for me because Ghana was going to the Paralympic for the first time and I was part of them [team]. It was a dream come true for me.
“I went there and represented Ghana even though I didn’t win a medal it was a nice experience; because I came back and shared [experience] with other para-athletes that were looking up to me”.
Despite being captain of the Ghana national wheelchair basketball team, the 42-year-old maintains his international field is being a wheelchair para-athlete, revealing his love for wheelchair racing where he is a dominant figure on the local and international scene.
“Wheelchair racing is everything to me. Wheelchair racing has made me who I am today. It has given me the opportunity to represent my nation three times in the Paralympics.
“I have won medals in the All Africa Games. Wheelchair racing made me be general captain of Ghana’s team at the commonwealth games in Australia”, Nkegbe Botsyo reiterated.
He further suggested that Ghana is making gradual progress in para-sports but there’s more to be done by the authorities in charge.
“The attention that has been given to us is less. There’s no much support we are getting from the authorities that matters to enable us to keep on going”
“Typical example is the sometimes when going a competition or qualifications you hear disciplines like amputee soccer crying for support even though para-sports has proven to Ghanaians and the world that we don’t need much to win laurels for Ghana.
“it’s just unfortunate and heartbreaking but we just hope things will change for the better”.
Raphael Nkegbe Botsyo was due to make his fourth appearance in the world Paralympics scheduled for Tokyo last this year but has been postponed to 2021 due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.