Emmanuel fought to represent Ghana and fulfil his dream

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 August 2012

Emmanuel Nartey.

Emmanuel Nartey.

Emmanuel Nartey.

A WESTON College student has fulfilled a lifelong dream by being the first Ghanaian to represent his country in judo at this year’s London Olympics.

Twenty-nine-year-old Emmanuel Nartey is the number one black belt in Africa and reached the last 32 at the London games.

While the British Army First Royal Tank Regiment trooper did not manage to fight his way into the medals this year, he still considered the experience to be a ‘dream come true’.

Emmanuel has lived in England since 2002 and had a tough road on his way to the London games.

As one of eight children in his hometown of Accra, Ghana’s capital, he started judo when he was just nine years old and had to endure a demanding daily ritual.

He said: “I’d get up at 5.30am in the morning and walk three miles to school and three miles back in 40-degree heat.

“After returning home from school and doing my homework I’d have lunch and then walk another seven miles to training and back.”

Emmanuel started his training at Prison Judo Club in Accra and became determined to build up a steady routine.

He said: “I would train three times a week in the old hall which belonged to the prison training school.

“I knew by then there was a big difference between us and the rich countries in the world.

“For us life is about survival, we haven’t got what they have but we have the desire and the heart to fight, we were taught to give our best in everything until the end.”

In 2002, when Emmanuel turned 18, he decided to move to England to pursue his dream and to join the British Army. After living in Manchester for a year, working as a cleaner in a pub and the BBC studios and practising judo every hour in-between, Emmanuel began his army training.

His judo talents were soon spotted by his commanding officer and Emmanuel was taken to team Bath’s high performance judo centre.

With his skills advancing and talent soaring, Emmanuel starting picking up medals at the British Open, the GB World Cup and from around the world.

The 73kg standout, who studied business management in Weston, secured his place into the games after finishing in fifth place at the African Championships in April.

Emmanuel said: “The most important thing to come out of my qualification for youngsters in Ghana is that I have given them hope and something to aspire to.

“Now they know and believe with hard work and dedication that the Olympic dream is possible and they are all proud of me at home.

“Life is all about working hard and the determination to be successful.”

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