Weight category: -73kg
Achievements: First Ghanaian judoka to compete at the Olympic Games
Next competition: 2013 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I started judo as a hobby when I was nine years old but later found judo to be more than a sport for me. For me, judo is education. When I was young it gave me something to do and also stopped me from going on the street with the bad guys. Judo gave me something to hold onto in life and to aspire to be somebody in the future. I fell in love with the sport when I was growing up and ever since then I do no regret the first day I set my foot in Prison Judo Club dojo.
I have represented my country on many occasions. At the beginning I self-funded trips to represent my country in all the major tournaments in the world. I believe nothing can compare to lifting the flag of your country in a different nation. When you are in a tournament, you are your country and you are the image of you country. The image of your country rests on your shoulders. Your participation in a tournament can open the door for the next generation and future athletes, representing your country is illustrating to your compatriots that it can be done.
The best moment of my sporting career was representing my country at the London 2012 Olympic Games. I was the first Ghanaian judo player to compete in the Olympics and although I have competed in all the top level judo tournaments in the world, and medalled in most of them, nothing compares to the Olympics. London 2012 brought the world to a standstill. I saw the world at peace during the Games. It was an honour for me to compete and be a part of the Games and gave me the understanding of why sport is very important for the world and human development.
Judo is more than a sport
Judo opened the door for me, judo gave me hope, vision and something to aspire to. It paved the way for me to gain long-term education which helped to shape my personal life and taught me the way to behave in public. Judo made me somebody through the education and door of opportunity which was open to me. Today I became an author because of judo (I wrote My Olympics Dream book) to inspire the next generation about my life journey. This is what judo gave me and this is what I feel I can give back to the sport.
Being a role model
I think in life you live every single moment fighting to be somebody, hoping to be somebody, but in the end all this doesn't matter. It is what you give back and the legacy you leave behind that matters the most because the goal is not to live forever but to create something that will last forever. My life and my judo career gave me the opportunity to create something that will last forever. Today I am a role model to many children across the world and mostly in Africa. When I visit cities in the poor communities in Africa, people from all over the place come to greet me, to see me and to hear me talk. I am not an Olympic champion or an Olympic medallist but my commitment to fighting and succeeding in life is something I am very proud of.
Judo in Ghana
Visiting Ghana this year, I am very happy to say the level of participation in judo and interest in Ghana has grown. We still have a lot of work to do, to support and bring this next generation through. I am hoping we will be able to do this in the future and I'm confident we can produce Olympic champions in my country and across Africa.
Judo's continued growth
Judo has changed in the last six years, it is a very exciting time and I'm glad these changes have occurred while I have been competing. I would say this approach is best for the development of judo across the world. There is an increase in participation and development of judo across the world and judo is becoming one of the rising core sports. Most importantly also for the future generation is the integration of judo into education.
For my future, I would like to get involved in helping the development of judo across the world. Over the next two years I will finish my MSc in International Management which will see me working in some top organisations in the United Kingdom and also to try and bring a change of environment to where I am. For me life is about impact and bringing change to the environment and everywhere I can, this is most important to me.
Emmanuel Nartey will compete in the 2013 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Wednesday 28 August.
LIKE Emmanuel Nartey on Facebook
Follow Emmanuel Nartey on Twitter