2023 African Games: Ghana bags 9 medals in Mixed Martial Arts

At the ongoing 2023 African Games on Tuesday night, Ghana won nine medals in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

One gold, three silver, and five bronze medals were among the outstanding haul of medals. This accomplishment was predicted to propel Ghana up the overall medal table; but, as of Wednesday morning, March 13, 2024, the official standings show that Ghana still only has five medals.

This is due to the fact that mixed martial arts (MMA) is classified as a demonstration sport at the current African Games, suggesting that medals earned in this discipline will not improve a country’s status overall.

What is a demonstration sport?

A demonstration sport, or exhibition sport, is a form of athletic activity played to promote the sport rather than for standard medal competition.

This was first introduced in the 1924 Summer Olympics, with some scholars suggesting unofficial sports before 1924 also served as demonstrations. Organizing committees typically included at least one demonstration sport at each edition of the Games, often reflecting a popular or typical sport in the host country. Examples include baseball at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and taekwondo at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Only two Summer Olympics Games from 1924 to 1992 did not feature demonstration sports.

Some of these sports later gain enough popularity to become official events in subsequent editions. Traditionally, the medals awarded for demonstration events share the same design as Olympic medals but are smaller and are not included in the official medal count.

A similar sport Sambo is the second sport also described as a demonstration discipline in the 2023 African Games. These two disciplines won’t guarantee a surge on the medal table should anyone win a medal from that.

While this may appear as a disappointment to Ghana which has evidently struggled in various disciplines, the medal scoop marks some improvement in their performances as athletes get closer to winning medals in other Games.

In the women’s football competition, the Back Princesses have advanced to the semi-finals and are one step closer to winning a medal. Meanwhile, the Black Satellites defeated Gambia 3-1 on Tuesday to increase their chances of qualifying.

Weightlifter Winnifred Ntumi, who earned one gold and two silver to win the nation’s first three medals at the Games, has been instrumental in Ghana’s remarkable five-medal haul thus far. Abeiku Jackson, the captain of Ghana’s swimming squad, created history by adding silver and bronze to Ghana’s total in the men’s butterfly.

Ghana is hoping to surpass the number of medals they won in the 2019 edition, which Morocco hosted, and place higher than the starting 15th place.


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