• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Cycling into the history books … all the way from Ghana to Glasgow

WHEN he takes to the boards at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome this summer, Glasgow's Jedidiah Amoako-Ackah will pedal his way into the history books as the first track cyclist to compete for Ghana in the Commonwealth Games.

But what is perhaps most remarkable about his accomplishment is that the ­ 23-year-old only took up cycling nine months ago.

Amoako-Ackah - or Jed, as he is known - has called Glasgow home for the past 14 years. A keen sportsman, he previously excelled at boxing and judo.

His journey to Glasgow 2014 began last September after he was introduced to Ghana-born Glasgow businessman Sean Dyantyi, the owner of rubbish removal firm Junk Me, who was spearheading a project to assist a track cyclist from his home country to compete at the Games.

"I didn't have any experience of track cycling so at the time it seemed an almost insane suggestion," said Amoako-Ackah. But deciding he was game for the challenge, he took a year out from his university course in sports therapy and embarked on the formidable task of learning how to ride a bike around a steeply banked velodrome.

While road cycling is popular in Ghana, racing on an indoor track remains a largely alien concept. When Amoako-Ackah first approached the Ghana Cycling Association to outline his aspirations, he admits they were "a bit taken aback" by the notion of him forming a one-man track cycling team for Glasgow 2014.

"While they were glad I was doing it, they had to take a backseat role and weren't able to offer any financial assistance," he said. "Everything has been supported by local Glaswegian businesses."

Among those to have contributed support are Junk Me, Juice Warrior, Wheatley Group and Rig Bike Shop. Amoako-Ackah coached himself for six months before David Daniell, a silver medallist for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, stepped in and offered to help him draw up a training plan.

Ivor Reid, a former Scotland coach who nurtured the early careers of Sir Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean, has taken on the volunteer role of Ghana track cycling team manager. Another to offer his services free of charge is Glasgow-based graphic designer Matt Burns, who created the skinsuit Amoako-Ackah will wear to compete. Central to the design are elements that reflect Ghanaian culture, including colourful traditional Kente patterns for which the African nation is known.

Having initially focused on track cycling's endurance events, Amoako-Ackah decided to change tack three months ago after realising he was physically better suited to sprinting: the equivalent of double Olympic champion Mo Farah ditching his trademark 5000m to line up alongside Usain Bolt on the 100m start line.

Recent weeks, however, have proved testing. With the Glasgow velodrome currently in lockdown as the final preparations for the Games are made, Amoako-Ackah has had to improvise. "I've been doing my sprint efforts on the road," he said. "You have to work hard and hope for the best."

Equally, he still faces an equipment shortfall. "I appreciate all the support I've been given but there is still so much to do," he said. "I'd be grateful for anyone who can help out, especially with a decent set of wheels for my bike."

His ambitions don't end with Glasgow and Amoako-Ackah hopes to lead a Ghanaian track cycling team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio: "My goal is to promote Ghana and get some momentum going in terms of track cycling."

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

242168