Despite monetary setbacks, the Ghanaian para-cycling team has been training hard to compete at the 2020 Milton para-cycling track World Championships. The athletes received a $4,000 donation which will help pay their airfare to Canada, but the money isn’t enough to cover shipping the tandem bikes the racers need to compete. “Getting to some of these competitions is difficult for countries that don’t have large federations supporting them,” said Kelyn Akuna, the track cycling and events coordinator at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, “even shipping a bike from here to Vancouver is costly, so shipping from Ghana is extremely expensive.”
A few weeks before the Milton para-cycling track World Championships, Akuna received an email from the Ghana team explaining their situation and asking if they could borrow two tandem bikes to race on. “Generally speaking the tandem bikes we have are used for one purpose,” he said, “if somebody came in and wanted to change the bike for competition we would need to modify a few things on the bike, there’s a little bit that would need to happen behind the scenes.” Regardless, Akuna was enthusiastic to help get the team set up and prepared to race. “The ethos of para-cycling is to make cycling more accessible so I’d like to honour that,” he said.
The Milton para-cycling track World Championships will act as an Olympic qualifier for many of the athletes racing this weekend at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre. According to GhanaWeb, Ghana is the only African country in this year’s qualifiers. “The fact that they’re coming here means they’re probably trying for an Olympic bid,” said Akuna, “if we can help somebody realize that lets do it.”
The staff at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre are happy the Ghanaian para-cycling team will be able to compete in the World Championship this weekend. “It’s like anything—if you put money in one place you can’t put it somewhere else,” said Akuna, “if this helps them do something more with the funds they have, then why wouldn’t I try and facilitate that?”