Finette Agyapong, British Ghanaian. 21 year old law student and GB Sprinter
JF: How did you get into sports, specifically athletics?
FA: I enjoyed sports a lot when I was younger and in all honesty, it was something I was always good at. I enjoyed racing the boys in primary school. When I went into secondary school, I asked to join the Athletics club and my career honestly took off there. I began to excel in competitions and it was there that my current coach found me. I made the GB selection back in 2015, if I remember correctly.
JF: Last summer, we saw you win the European under-23 Championships 200m, an amazing achievement of course so congratulations are definitely in order! Would you say this has been your biggest achievement in your sporting career?
FA: Thank you! I have had a number of other successes but that has been the one I am honestly most proud of!
JF: I can only imagine – such a fantastic achievement. So, is the Olympics on the horizon for you?
FA: The Olympics is only 2 years away from now which, in the life of a sprinter, is not long at all! I would like to think so.
JF: We would love to see you represent Team GB in the Olympics and pray you get there! So, in your sporting career thus far, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome said challenges?
FA: Growing up, I struggled with things like confidence and believing in myself as they are things that do not come naturally straight away to me, however, persevering in my talent has caused these things to grow beyond measure. Thankfully, I have always had a very supportive family. During my younger years and growing up in an African household, I got a lot of questions concerning why I was doing athletics? What benefit was it to my life? This was rather challenging to deal with. As I grew older and better as an athlete and began obtaining more achievements, my family’s support as a whole began to grow even more.
JF: I think lot of people from African backgrounds have similar experiences growing up and can relate in terms of parents not being as openly supportive of their non-traditional career paths, interests or hobbies. I do not think it comes from a bad place though.
FA: We need to understand that our parents have never seen these types of career paths and they are rather foreign to them. I do not blame them and to be honest, it comes from a lack of understanding.
JF: I agree! Given the rise in non-traditional career paths, what advice would you give to other young people that may be facing similar dynamics?
FA: Never quit if it is something you enjoy doing and get your parents involved – take them to your matches, shows and competitions. Show them what you are doing so they can see what is going on – get them involved.
JF: Definitely. I noticed that you are also a law undergraduate. How are you finding that and where do you see yourself taking it?
FA: I would be lying if I said it was easy. It is very difficult, however, once I finish university, I would like to focus on training full-time and see how that goes. Once I have retired from athletics, I’ll come back to law and do something with my degree. It is always good to have something as a back-up plan, you never know what the future holds.
JF: The good thing about undertaking a degree like law is that it is extremely transferrable to a number of careers and industries. What is your current opinion on sports and Ghana?
FA: From watching the Summer and Winter Olympics, I think it is evident that there is a lack of representation in all sports. I watched the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics and I could count the Ghanaian team on one hand. I think that we need to be cultivating more athletes across all sports.
JF: Representation is essential, however, for young people interested in sports in Ghana, the limited access to resources may be a hinderance to their progression. What advice would you give to someone in such a predicament?
FA: Begin searching for clubs and groups and find ways to get involved where you can. Practice what you love doing and train for yourself.
JF: What would you say to those in senior positions, such as the current Minister of Sports, Isaac Asamiah, to encourage further inclusion in sports?
FA: Firstly to coaches, encourage your athletes as much as you can as they may not be getting the same support from home; secondly, creating better access routes to sporting opportunities for those that are based in Accra, as well as further out in the nation.
JF: I am 100% in support of the access to opportunities point you just made. I feel as though the current lack of representation on the international playing field is a testament to the current lack of opportunities young Ghanaians may be experiencing. Finally, are you interested in taking your sporting experience back to Ghana in the future?
FA: It is definitely something I am interested in. I would love to build a Sports Foundation with track facilities for the youth. It is something I feel is needed in Ghana and it would be a major goal for me.
It was a pleasure speaking with Finette, a rising star in the world of athletics. Be sure to follow her on her socials linked below and support her journey as an athlete!