Olympic wrestler happy to be RBC ambassador

By RON FANFAIR

Freestyle wrestler Ohenewa Akuffo thoroughly enjoyed her first-time Olympic experience in Beijing last year even though she finished 10th in the 72-kilogram weight class.

Just over a year later, she’s preparing for another Olympics. As a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) community ambassador, Akuffo will get the opportunity to participate in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics torch relay and spend a week at the 21st Games to be held from February 12 to 28.

“I am very thrilled about this,” said Akuffo, who narrowly missed out on a chance to compete for a bronze medal at last year’s summer Olympics when she dropped a close second round bout in the repechage round to Spaniard Maider Unda. “I follow the winter sports because they are exciting and I have had the chance to meet some of the athletes. Bobsledding is one of my favourites because of the speed and strength involved which are similar to some of the things necessary to compete successfully in my sport.”

As an ambassador in RBC’s national outreach program targeted at Canada’s young, Akuffo is part of a team that will help promote the value of sport, exercise and the Olympics values. The team will also engage RBC employees, clients and community partners with messages of inspiration, excellence, sportsmanship and leadership.

“I am very engaging and I like interacting with people, especially youths,” said Akuffo, who attended last week’s Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) national scholarship awards which was hosted by RBC. “This opportunity also allows me to train, make some money and also give back to the community, which is something I enjoy.

“I also feel privileged to be with RBC because they have been my bank for several years. I chose them over the other financial institutions because they, in my opinion, have always supported athletes and athletic endeavours. They obviously care about sports people and that inspired me to bank with them.”

Akuffo, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Administrative Studies with honours in Marketing and a Management & Sports Administration certificate program part-time at York University, hopes to graduate before the 2012 London Olympics.

“As a high performance athlete, most of my time has been spent training and competing in the past few years,” she said. “I am, however, dedicated to completing my studies in the next few years.”

The 2009 Brampton Hall of Fame inductee won a gold medal at the 2005 World Student Games, silver medals at the 2003 and 2007 Pan American Games and a bronze medal at last year’s world female championships in Japan.

Akuffo, who was born in North York and spent five years in Ghana before returning to Canada at age eight, is a 10-time senior Canadian champion. She aspires to become a motivational speaker/teacher at the end of her wrestling career which started in high school.

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