Today I turn 32 and I am happy to announce that I am officially registered as Ghana’s first national triathlete.
It has been a tumultuous time professionally, but being able to represent my county at the International Triathlon Union race circuit this year is a dream come true.
Competing in this sport has been no coincidence but the influence of very important people in my life. After all, it has been exactly 10 years since I got into sports and 5 years since my first triathlon.
Firstly, Diana Lovett, who started everything by getting me into running and Marathons 10 years ago this summer. I know your mom Abigail Erdmann was a huge influence on your life and for that I thank her too! And both of you for coming and supporting me at various races around the world.
My next thank you goes to my GP Dr George Kaye. Instead of dissuading me from doing any sports given my bad knee post-2008, he encouraged me to swim, which is where I met the indomitable Fiona Ford, at my local pool.
It was Diana again who got me into triathlon but it was Fiona who coached me and made me fall in love with the sport. She taught me how to swim and bike in February 2009 and coached me to compete in my first Ironman in June 2010.
Fiona and I have shared flights, races and birthdays together and it was during one of her legendary training camps in the French Alps that I met her former and my current coach Spencer Smith.
Despite not racing under Spencer yet, it’s been a new and exciting experience for me. I have become stronger on the bike without sacrificing my run and found a new adrenaline rush with swimming. For whom I also have to thank Fiona and Paul and Adam at Swim Smooth.
Spencer has helped me setup a decent training circuit in Ghana, but none of it would have been possible without Mr Bawah Fuseini.
Mr Bawah helped guide me through Ghana’s process, single-handedly setup the Ghana Triathlon Federation, provided me with swim, track and cycling access as well as facilitate some incredible introductions to new mentors in my life like Prof. Francis Dodoo. And it is at the pool, track and cycling sessions in Ghana that the community I have gotten to know has come through so strongly. Anne-Dorthe Joker for allowing me to swim at LCS, William and Chief at the Lincoln and Burma pools for dealing with my demands and giving me pool time, Daniel at El Wak for giving me the all-clear to train on the track in the evenings, as well as the guys at Die Hard Cycling who introduced me to Tom Phillips.
Tom has been incredible at putting together great bike rides and getting me out of bed at 6am every Sunday! Not sure I would have done those long rides without him. Also his encouragement and that of Ayowa Afrifa and all my friends. Friends who have endured the “sorry cannot drink tonight, must be up at 5am” as well as standing for hours on end waiting for me to cross the finish line. Thank you.
And then there are my fellow team mates in the UK, Suzy Black, Kerrie O’Connor, Corey Dawson, Liz Cooper, James Weller and most importantly Josh Roberts. Thank you for shielding me from the wind during those long rides in Surrey, allowing me to draft off your feet in the pool and sharing your pretzels with me during our training camps.
Last but not least, my family. You have always encouraged me, always supported me and continue to push me to reach my full potential. I could not have done any of this without you.
My first race of the season will be the ITU Cape Town on the 26th of April. The first time an ITU race has been held in Africa and the first time a Ghanaian National has ever officially raced within the circuit. The race will be my first Olympic distance race since my first triathlon in 2009, I shall be competing as an age-grouper (amateur, not elite) but look forward to putting my new arms, legs and lungs to the test.
Here I am, 32 years of age, feeling content and lucky to have you all in my life. Thank you.