Ten-time senior national wrestling champion, Ohenewa Akuffo, is one of three young Canadian sports leaders selected to take part in the International Olympic Academy (IOA) Young Participants session from June 11 to 25 in Olympia, Greece.
The IOA unites some of the world’s most vibrant young leaders in sport and physical activity from nearly 100 countries. This year’s theme is “The Empowerment of Olympism through Youth”.
“There are so many wonderful benefits to Olympism and I can’t wait to join fellow Olympians and other delegates from around the world to really dive into the study of them,” said Akuffo.
A gold medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a 2008 Beijing Olympics participant, Akuffo is looking forward to travelling to Greece for the first time.
“This is the birthplace of the ancient and modern Olympics, so this place is obviously rich with history,” she said. “I enjoy participating in the sport and this is an opportunity for me to be exposed to the educational aspect and also interact with youth leaders from across the globe. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it comes at a time when I am focussing on the next chapter of my life.”
Akuffo has taken time off from competition to build her business of helping clients achieve optimal health and fitness through one-on-one coaching and workshops.
“I am not officially retired,” she said. “I am just exploring the next chapter of my life. I have seen several teammates take time off from competition and come back stronger. I have been competing for 20 years and I have enjoyed every moment. I have not had any serious injuries and I have taken care of my body.”
Born in North York, Akuffo relocated to Ghana with her parents at age three before coming back five years later.
A gold medallist at the 2005 World University Games, a two-time Pan American Games silver medallist and a 2008 World Championship bronze medal, Akuffo was inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame four years ago.
Her sport, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, is set to be dropped from the Olympics. With the exception of the 1900 Games in Paris, wrestling has been in every Olympics since the inaugural modern Games in 1896.
Canadian athletes have won 16 Olympic wrestling medals, all in freestyle, since 1908.
Women’s freestyle wrestling was introduced into the Olympics in 2004.
“Wrestling has always been a huge part of the Olympics and it’s one in which Canada has done well in over the years,” said Akuffo. “I will continue to lobby and play my part for the sport to remain in the Olympics.”