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Deborah Acquah Talks Mental Battles at Commonwealth Games

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Ghana’s long jump queen Deborah Aqua opens up about the mental challenges she endured at the 2022 Commonwealth Games before emerging as one of Ghana’s five medalists in Birmingham.

Deborah, 24, made history in Ghana’s final moments at the competition. She became the first woman to win a medal in the event and in her first attempt in the final she set her new personal best of 6.94 meters.

But her Commonwealth story goes even further, as she was on her way to gold until Australia’s Brooke Buschkuehl clocked 6.95m and Nigeria’s Ese Brume clocked 6.99m for bronze. It could have been fun. That said, it was a rewarding end for a long jumper who got her UK visa with just 48 hours to go before the competition.

Her visa delays and late arrival to Birmingham, an event broken by JoySports, were mostly covered by the local media as athletics and boxing. It was her two surest paths to Ghana winning a medal at the Olympics.

But what many didn’t know was that Acquah was on her back from an injury that has proven to take up to six to 12 months to recover and was her first real jump in the Commonwealth final. is.

Deborah Acquah Talks Mental Battles at Commonwealth Games

“I had an Achilles tendon injury, so when I went out there to jump, I had this mentality. The thing is – in any competition, I know you feel pain, but put all the pain in. Step away and think about that moment, so in that moment, it really hurt but you forgot about the pain. I was thinking about what we had been working on – and I just had to do it.

“I know there were a lot of good athletes out there, but my coach always said, on competition day, it wasn’t about who was the best, it was about who was ready. I thought, ‘Okay, Deborah, it’s today – let’s go,'” the Commonwealth bronze medalist told JoySports after landing in Ghana.

Lost in a mental battle at the World Championships in Athletics

“Let’s Go” was the signal for Deborah’s personal best of 6.94m, but a few weeks ago she fell short of the final qualifying mark of 6.75m at the World Championships in Athletics, and after two failures, she was on her last attempt. recorded 6.74 meters.

However, Deborah is fifth in the world in the long jump and boasts a mark of 6.89 meters set in April, setting a new national record. So it should have been a piece of cake for her to reach the 6.74m mark and reach the final. But unbeknownst to many, the distance she had to cover in Oregon wasn’t just her credential mark.

“I worked really hard. I had to go to the game.

“I think I was scared. I was so scared to compete with the best players in the world, but that tournament was my first big tournament. I don’t remember closing my eyes for an hour the day before the competition, I remember thinking about the competition all night and telling myself, “I think I can do it.” I’m here. My coach says, “Whenever you think too much about competition and you think you can’t do anything, do some exercise or whatever.”

“I tried, but it didn’t work. I had to start thinking about my dream in my head to get me to sleep, and it still didn’t work. I called some friends just to try not to think about it, but I was still thinking about it.I was in a competition and I wasn’t eating.I had to force myself to eat. My coach approached me and asked, “Is Deborah okay?” I was like ‘yeah’ and he was like ‘you’re not’. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“He said: ‘I know what you’re doing,’ and I said, ‘What am I doing?’ says yes. So I had to eat bananas, I had two bananas and I couldn’t even swallow them.

Deborah Acquah Talks Mental Battles at Commonwealth Games

Deborah, who is ranked 5th in the world, was struggling with the reality of facing “the best in the world”. So while many Ghanaians were hoping she could at least make it to the finals of her Worlds, the 24-year-old was already mentally out of the qualifying rounds before she actually hit the field.

When JoySports’ Fentuo Tahiru Fentuo asked if a psychologist could help her at the World Athletics Championships, her simple answer was “I think so.”

Neither Deborah nor the rest of the Ghana team received a single service in Oregon. We also had no plans to get service in Birmingham either. But it was a situation in which Deborah refused to contact her again — and she received welcome internal support to overcome it.

“Deborah – that’s my girl,” Joseph Paul Amore began narrating with a laugh. “She’s been through a lot since before the World Championships and she’s here. [Birmingham] – Came here the day she was jumping and came out first in the final.

“I used to talk to her before the jump. We went to lunch together in the dining hall. I think it was the tension of [so] you have to take care of it. “You’re one of my favorite girlfriends. Why should I bother you with this sort of thing?”

“I had to motivate her, encourage her, and boost her morale.

case for the future

Yes, Amoah’s efforts paid off. As Deborah revealed to JoySports, she’s about to sign some sponsorship deals that could really kick-start her professional career. I am reconsidering my decision now. Imagine what would happen if Amore’s encouragement didn’t work. Ghana would have lost their top 5 athletes in the ‘simple’ case of a non-existent psychologist.

Nevertheless, the need for a psychologist for Ghana’s track and field team in subsequent international competitions was not only emphasized by long jumpers.

Barnabas Agerh, a student-athlete from the University of Development Studies, made his debut at the Commonwealth Games, running the third leg of Ghana, where the men’s 4x100m team secured automatic final qualification, but was later waived due to disqualification.

Deborah Acquah Talks Mental Battles at Commonwealth Games

But that was just a fraction of the mental barriers Agger had to scale at Birmingham. He revealed to his JoySports that having a team psychologist at the Commonwealth Games makes adjustments easier.

“There was a little bit of pressure on that platform because it’s a very big platform. You have to keep the pressure off yourself. We need a psychologist to talk to and guide us, but I’ve never had a psychologist.