Veteran Sports Journalist Ken Bediako-The Writer

By Ken Bediako

This is the second part in the series on the specially invited national sporting legends to the recent Accra 2923 African Games. Top on the list today is Ohene Karikari, the young sprinter who stole the show in Lagos 1973. The others will be Ebenezer Charles Okoe Addy, the then Legon Student who rubbed shoulders with the world’s best sprinters at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and Ethel Jacks the best female table tennis star Ghana has ever produced.

Ohene Karikari, a product of Opoku Ware Secondary School in Kumasi cut his teeth at the 1972 Olympics in Munich where he run the sprints relay alongside his senior in secondary school Sandy Osei Agyeman, George Daniels and J.A. Addy in the sprints relay. The youngster might have definitely learnt a lot from the Munich Olympics as he completely stole the show the following year at the 2nd African Games in Lagos.

In addition to his prowess on the tracks, the spelling of his name became and attraction. The name tickled the Nigerian radio and TV sports commentators so much. Interestingly the sports commentators preferred to pronounce it Karii Karii much to the amusement of Ghanaians listening back home.

Karikari won two gold medals in the 100m, 200m and silver in the sprints relay anchoring George Daniels, K.O Okyir and Joe Apraku.

From the African Games in Lagos, Ohene Karikari was also outstanding at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand where he won silver medal in the sprints relay with George Daniels, K. O. Okyir, and Albert Lomotey.

Karikari also won bronze in his favourite 100m event at the Games.

The young man was going to make his second Olympic Games appearance in Montreal 1976 when Ghana pulled out of the Games at the last minute when the contingent of athletes, boxers and footballers were already at the Games Village. The withdrawal was in sympathy with African countries in a protest against New Zealand’s participation in Montreal since that country had sporting links with the then apartheid South Africa.

Ghana had sent a contingent of well prepared athletes, boxers and footballers to Montreal when that political decision was taken in solidarity with other African nations to boycott the Games.

The Ghana contingent led by then Brigadier Bob Kotei, made hurried consultations with Accra and the Kutu Acheampong government ordered that the team should return home immediately

much to the disappointment of the competitors, the officials and of course the accompanying sports journalists.

Yours sincerely was incidentally at the Games to cover for the Daily Graphic so was Sammy Aduagyei for the Ghanaian Times.

Ben Eghan and Ken Amoah (both of blessed memory) were there for Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. The four of us with all expenses paid upfront to the final of the Games, decided to stay on and watch the Games for a few days. The atmosphere at the Press Centre was rather morbid for the “Black Press” for obvious reasons. Why stick around when your sports contingent has vamoosed? We later flew to the US for an unscheduled holiday before returning home.

Sorry for the diversion but I still think the younger generation should be told the story of how the rest of Africa stood by their suffering brothers and sisters in South Africa in those blood and thunder days.

Years later, as we say in local parlance the hands of South Africa reach their backs and they can boycott an African Games hockey tournament hosted by Ghana because in their estimation, the hockey pitch in our national capital falls below their standards. Time changes indeed.

I can’t forget the strenuous preparation Ghana put up for the Montreal Olympics. Most sports journalists were convinced Ghana was poised for Olympic gold especially in football. It was the squad being groomed for the 1978 Afcon that Ghana won the original Africa Cup for keeps. 

Let me refresh your memory with names of the 1976 Olympic squad John Baker, Sam Ampeh, Enoch Asumadu, P.S.K Paha, Kuuku Dadzie, Dan Oppong, Awuley Quaye, Lomo Mitchell, Mama Acquah, Dan Owusu, Anas Seidu, Isaac Eshun, Abdul Razak, Emmanuel Quarshie, Agyeman Badu, Ibrahim Kassum, Mohammed Polo, Robert Hammond, then easily the best player was dropped at the last minute from the team for alleged indiscipline amidst wild protests from the football public.

The athletics contingent comprised Ohene Karikari, Daniel Phillips, George Daniels George Enchill, Sandy Osei Agyeman (sprints) Makarios Djan Joseph Bandu Joe Apeagyei, K.R. Adams (long jump), Joshua Owusu (triple jump).

The women athletes were Hannah Afriyie Grace Bakari (sprints) Janet Yawson (long jump), Elizabeth Bruce (hurdles) Rose Hart (Discus).


Light flyweight Eric Boone Quartey; Flyweight Anthony Abacheng; Lightwelterweight Mohammed Dauda; welterweight Musa Gariba; Lightmiddleweight Moro Tahiru; Middleweight Amon Kotey, Lightheavyweight Mama Mohammed.

This clearly shows Ghana sports has come a long way.

Next instalment will focus on living legends ECO Addy and Ethel Jacks.

Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.