In more than a few months, Blessing Afripa will celebrate his 19th birthday.
Even before that happens, the senior Israeli sprinter has many reasons to be happy tonight (between Thursday and Friday), when he smashed the Israeli and personal record for the seventh time this year, and won the gold medal at the World Under-20 Championship in Colombia, while setting a new championship record.
WORLD U20 CHAMPION ‼️
Blessing Akawasi Afrifah 🇮🇱 breaks the championship 200m record with 19.96 to defeat big favorite @LetsileTebogo2 🇧🇼 by just six thousandths of a second and strike gold! #WorldAthleticsU20 pic.twitter.com/NTWkhUlk7m
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) August 4, 2022
But Afrifa's path to fame was fraught with quite a few obstacles since childhood.
Afrifa was born in Israel to parents who came here from Ghana - his father, Prince, came to Israel about 30 years ago as an employee of the Ghanaian consulate.
In 2010, the family, which includes his mother Cynthia, his father, and his sister Marcy, who is three years younger than him, received the status of permanent residents, following a government decision not to deport children of foreign workers who were born in Israel and meet certain criteria.
If so, the Afrifa family was not satisfied with that, and wanted to continue fulfilling the dream and receive the certificate of citizenship, when only with a blue ID card, it was not possible for Blessing to compete for the state.
What helped quite a bit to solve the complicated issue were his extraordinary achievements in athletics.
Blessing, a former student of "Ahl Shem" high school in Ramat Gan, studied as a child in Ramat Affil and came to the athletics department of Maccabi Tel Aviv after winning the elementary school competitions. This was a full circle - at the age of seven he played football for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but had to leave Because his family could not meet the financial burden.
What a race 🤯
Blessing Akawasi Afrifah 🇮🇱 surprises @LetsileTebogo2 🇧🇼 in a championship record time of 19.96 and strikes 200m gold for six thousandths of a second!
First 200m race in history in which two U20 athletes break 20 seconds. #WorldAthleticsU20 pic.twitter.com/npPKhjkTGB
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) August 5, 2022
There, in the athletics department, Blessing trained for only one year in the children's group, before being promoted to the seniors at the age of 14, and the person who picked him up has been his coach to this day - Yigal Balon, who took him under his wing, when he saw the potential in him, and he probably knew what he was talking about.
Already in 2019, Afrifa was ranked second in the Israeli Championship for adults in the 200 meters, but was not crowned due to the lack of citizenship, and later also held the best time in Europe in the 200 m run for cadets under the age of 18, (21.46 seconds), and finished the same year, When he is fifth in Europe for youth up to the age of 20 and eighth in the world for youth.
In the non-Olympic distance of 300 m, he held the best result in the world for cadets, 34.22 seconds.
At the beginning of July 2020, the circle was closed and Afrifa's struggle bore fruit.
At the end of the recommendations of the higher ranks and in the end the final stamp with the approval of the Minister of the Interior for Shabar Arie Deri, the young athlete, got to receive the long-awaited announcement - that he can start representing Israel, when the answer came that he is a citizen of the country.
And here, tonight one of the great talents of the local athletics, who is also known as Israel's Usain Bolt, also brought the parallels for this, when at the end of an extraordinary year that offset and offset his national record, the icing on the cake came with winning the under-20 world championship.
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