York student wrestles for Canada at World University Games

A York student will help make a bit of history at the 23rd World University Games next month in Izmir, Turkey. Freestyle wrestler Ohenewa Akuffo was named to the Canadian team competing at the 2005 Summer Universiade, Aug. 11-21. The 2005 Games will mark the debut of wrestling as a Universiade discipline.

Ohenewa AkuffoAkuffo, 26, a third-year student in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, was born in North York but lived for five years as a child in the West African city of Accra, Ghana, where she was introduced to her extended family and learned about her cultural roots.

Left: Ohenawa Akuffo

A devotee of summer outdoor sports and warm beaches, Akuffo became the youngest-ever member of the Canadian senior team and won her first national title in 1997 as a high-school wrestler. She also won the junior national title that year and again in 1998. After two years at McMaster University, where she won the 1999 Ontario and Canadian interuniversity championships, Akuffo transferred to York to study business administration and continue her winning ways. She won the senior national title in 2001 and again in 2003, defeating six-time world champion Christine Nordhagen from Calgary in her first match.

In her international career, Akuffo has won a gold and two silver medals at the Pan-Am Games and competed for Canada in several world championships and international meets, winning the Canada Cup and Polish Grand Prix in 2001 and repeating as Canada Cup winner in 2003.

Akuffo is profiled in a story on prominent Ghanaians on the Ghanaian Student Association @ York Web site. She is also featured on the Atkinson Faculty’s Web site, where she credits the Continuing Studies Program for allowing her to study, train and compete. “As a member of the Canadian National Wrestling Team, it is not easy to pursue an undergraduate degree while training intensely to make the Canadian Olympic Team. The flexibility of Atkinson has allowed me to achieve both these goals concurrently and I am forever grateful,” she said.

The five-day Universiade wrestling competition is scheduled for Aug. 13-17. Freestyle events will take place Aug. 13-14 on the men’s side, and Aug. 14-15 on the women’s side. The Greco-Roman style competition will follow on Aug. 16-17.

The Summer Universiade is a multi-sport event that takes place every two years, and is second in size only to the Olympic Games. The Universiade is open to competitors between the ages of 17 and 28 in the year of the Games, who are full-time post-secondary students (university, college, CEGEP) or have graduated from a post-secondary institution within the previous year of the event.

For all the info on the 2005 Summer Universiade, vist the Izmir 2005 and Team Canada Web sites.