Team Seychelles prepares to leave for African Games in Ghana, aiming for the best
Team Seychelles received its sending-off for the upcoming African Games from March 8 to 23, in a ceremony on Monday at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay resort.
The ceremony was low-key since many athletes were in overseas competitions or training. Those present received encouragement from the Minister for Youth, Sports and Family, Marie-Celine Zialor.
«We will not be going to the African Games for experience. Our athletes know the taste of African Games medals,» said Zialor in her address.
Seychelles will take part in seven sporting disciplines, namely athletics, boxing, judo, badminton, swimming, weightlifting and volleyball.
Zialor told participants to «carry Seychelles in your mind, carry Seychelles in your heart, and do your best. If you cannot win a medal, look for a personal best and no matter what result you come back with, we will encourage you.»
A group of officials are already in Ghana, including the delegation's head, Lucas Georges. The first delegation of athletes will leave on Tuesday, including athletes for the judo, weightlifting, volleyball and swimming competitions.
Another delegation will leave on March 10 with athletes from athletics and boxing and other athletes that are currently abroad will meet up with the delegation in Ghana.
Athletes parade in the uniforms that will be used during the Games. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
One of the athletes heading directly to Ghana from the overseas competition is the newly crowned Seychelles' Sportsman of the Year, boxer Keddy Agnes, who will also be the Seychelles flag bearer.
In his absence, another gold medal-winning boxer in the last Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG), Dasheil Fanchette, accepted the Seychelles flag from the minister on his behalf. This will be Fanchette's first appearance at the tournament, after bursting onto the scene during last year's IOIG.
«This is a big tournament, especially for a first time for me, but in all competitions that I go to, the aim is to win a medal,» he said, adding that despite not having extensive preparations, he and his colleagues will be looking to do their best in Ghana.
While this will be the first African Games appearance for Fanchette, for weightlifter Clementina Agricole, this competition is not new. She won bronze medals twice in 2007 and 2015. She is the only weightlifter participating in the event.
«For me, I am a bit disappointed as we have not had any preparations, but I will be trying to do my best. I don't have any big expectations,» said Agricole.
Seychelles' weightlifting is mired in controversy, with several unconfirmed reports stating that some of their athletes have tested positive for banned substances. No official confirmation has been announced.
Another athlete making her first appearance at the games is swimmer Aaliyah Palestrini, who said, «the training sessions have been quite good, and although I think it will be tough, I will try to do my best.»
This is the second time in history that the Africa Games games will be decentralised and three cities in Ghana, the organising country, will host the event. The cities are Accra, Kumasi, and Cape Coast.
Seychelles remains hopeful because in the last edition of the African Games in Morocco in August 2019, Team Seychelles won two golds, one silver, and one bronze medal. All the medals were won by swimmer Felicity Passon, who will not be part of Team Seychelles this time.
The African Games is a continental multi-sport event held every four years, organised by the African Union with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa and the Association of African Sports Confederations. All of the competing nations are from the African continent.
The 13th African Games previously known, as the All-Africa Games, will see the participation of 53 nations.