Friday, July 6, 2012

Angola's Olympians - Taking Pride in Sport

Angola debuted as a participant in the Olympic Games five years after the proclamation of its independence on November 11th, 1975. The first appearance was in the summer of 1980 in Moscow, the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Since then, Angola has been present at all Olympic competitions, held every four years, except in Los Angeles in 1984.
Angola was not present in the U.S. city of Los Angeles in solidarity with all the countries that boycotted in retaliation for similar actions taken by the United States and its allies against the Olympics in Moscow, under the East-West confrontation of the time.  Angola emerged in the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988 and thereafter has participated in every Olympic games already made (Barcelona, in 1992, Atlanta, in 1996, Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008).
Athletics, swimming and boxing were the Angolan sport specialities since the first Angolan presence in Moscow, to which followed male and female handball, male and female basketball, canoeing, judo, beach volleyball and also shooting.  Angolan Shooting made its debut in 2000, in the Sydney Olympics.  Canoeing made its appearance in Beijing in 2008, with the skilled Angolan athlete Domingos Fortunato. The beach volleyball was another sport that made its debut in China's capital.
Among the hundreds of athletes who have represented Angola in various sports, the highlight goes to the runner João Ntyamba and the swimmer Nádia Cruz, who have the record in Olympic Game presences. With his presence in the Beijing Olympic Marathon, João Ntyamba became the first athlete to participate in six Olympics, who premiered in Seoul in 1988.  On the other hand, Nádia Cruz represented Angola in Swimming in four Olympic Games: Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney, where in the latter city she was the flag bearer of the Angolan delegation.
London 2012 is the eighth presence of Angola in the Olympic Games in various sports, without having won any medals yet. In the British capital, Angolans have some hope especially in handball and basketball, both feminine, which are the current champions and representatives of the African continent.
After the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games (for the disabled), which as usual take place in the same city, will occur in London from August 29th to September 9th, and for which Angola has its eyes on being successful. Taking into account some successes already achieved in previous Games, the Angolan participation was the subject of careful preparation, involving the training of the nine athletes selected (Athletics and Swimming) in the High Performance Centre in Pretoria (South Africa), competition in the International Athletics Meeting in Tunisia and other stages in Portugal, Cuba and in a high performance center in the host country.
The goal set by the Angolan Paralympic Committee is to win medals, like in other occasions, especially in the 2004 Athens Games, where Angolan sprinter José Armando Sayovo won three gold medals and set records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, such achievement led the Secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, to designate him as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Solidarity Causes.  Here's to the success of Angola at these upcoming Olympic Games in London.  (TAAG Austral Magazine)