By: Malika Keïta
We arrived at the Bamako airport at six in the morning. The arrival to Togo was more than exciting when to our surprise we met the Cameroon Douala team. We bonded immediately. The second plane ride to Ghana had all of us excited to see the hotel, make friends and have a look at the school. The same day we went to the Ghanaian mall which made us explore more the city. That night was emotionally charged, as we could feel the tiredness and the stress of the competition the next day. We walked to the school with the Ouagadougou team that was in the same hotel as us. The stress was high but the image that stood out to us that day was our little champions Teodor and Luca, who were the first of our team to race.
The first day was tiring and most of us were disappointed not to have won any medals. The team spirit wasn’t high. On the second and last day of competition we were full of energy. We cheered for the Cameroonian team and they cheered for our team, together we were strong. Luca won one bronze medal that day , and Soraya won two medals in breaststroke. As my friend from Cote d’Ivoire told me “It starts with bronze, then with silver and finishes with gold!” We were full of joy as they made our team champions in our hearts.
To prepare for this competition I made up my mind that I was going to do my best to represent my country. We had to bring twice the material we needed because of emergency cases. I had to make more effort to talk to students from other schools. We all also had to be more responsible, in the hotel, in the airport. We made sure to be extremely respectful as we were surrounded by a variety of nationalities.
This competition was emotionally demanding for all. It was full of stress, happiness, and sometimes tears. Through these experiences you get to be stronger. It is by overcoming hard steps that you get to know your team, and yourself better.
Some students came to Ghana with the idea of making friends, and having fun. Some of us had the mindset to bring a medal and make the school proud. On the last day of competition this mindset changed. The most important was to do your best, to have fun, and take advantage of the experience. I learned that you will make the people that carried you through this experience proud no matter if you come back with or without a medal. Sportsmanship is one of the most important skills to have to participate in any competition.