The son of the embassy worker became Israel's hope: "Afrifa is the most special there is"
His connection to Israel is reminiscent of that of Luna Chemtai, he started his career as a footballer and only two years ago received permission to represent the country.
Blessing Afripa rose from the bottom, shattered all predictions at the Under-20 World Championship, and now his unique story has been revealed.
And there are also new expectations: "You can't escape it"
Friday, 05 August 2022, 09:30
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Luna Chemtai's press conference upon her return to Israel after the World Championship (photo: Niv Aharonson, video editing: Dina Mahfoutz)
As in the case of Luna Chemtai Salpeter, Blessing Afripa's connection to Israeli athletics was also born through a family connection to work at the embassy.
While Chemtai came to Israel to work in the home of the Kenyan consul, Afrifa's father also came to the country from Ghana to work at the embassy.
Already 30 years ago, the father came to Israel and Blessing was born here.
He grew up in Ramat Gan as an Israeli to all intents and purposes, and tried his hand at football at a young age.
Very quickly he left the field, but proved to be an exceptional athlete in school competitions.
The athletics association recognized the potential and connected him at the age of 14 to the national coach Igor Balon.
But Afripa did not have Israeli citizenship, and even if he was born here he could not represent Israel.
Just two years ago, he received citizenship from Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, and tonight's competition (between Thursday and Friday) in Colombia was only his second international competition.
The first was the European Youth Championship.
The athletics association connected them when Afrifa was 14 years old. Today we see the results.
With coach Igor Balon (photo: official website, Bnei Neve)
Afripa's extraordinary result is also a record in Ghana, where short runs are less specialized.
The athletics association admitted this morning that they did not estimate that Afrifa could drop below 20 seconds already, when he is not yet 19 years old. The expectation for him in the championship was to reach the semi-finals.
The same expectation existed until a month ago, from the European Senior Championships that will open later this month in Munich.
Afrifa will arrive the day after tomorrow directly from Colombia to Germany, and the CEO of the Athletics Association Gal Levy admitted this morning that in light of his result tonight, the goal has been changed from a semifinal in the European Championships to a final. "There is no doubt that when you determine the result of this year in Europe, you cannot escape the new goal that you have for the championship in Munich." , said Levy, who added that "the challenge now for all the parties around Afrifa will be to know how to direct him after tonight's record, so that he reaches the same focus and the same level of preparedness for the senior championships" which, in a chilling way, will be held in Munich 50 years after the 11th massacre.
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Afrifa (photo: official website, courtesy of the Athletics Association)
15 athletes represented Israel at the championships in Munich, and now alongside six marathoners and high jumper Yonatan Kapitolnik, a new expectation of a medal was born from the direction of Afrifa, about whom his acquaintances say this morning: "Blessing is an Israeli in everything. He is the most smiling, the most sympathetic, the most special in the union for several years We have to admit that it happened faster than we thought, and now we can only dream about what else he can do."