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72-year-old Rose Amankwaah was once Africa’s fastest woman

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rose amankwaah
Rose Amankwaah, a retired sprinter and nurse. Photo/ITVX
  • Rose Amankwaah will never be your average nurse even in her old age
  • The London-based retired nurse worked for 50 years as a theatre matron at Central Middlesex Hospital
  • At 72, she has very fond memories of her athletic days back home in Ghana and London

Rose Amankwaah will never be your average nurse even in her old age. She carries with her deep prestige of being the fastest woman in Africa decades ago.

The London-based retired nurse worked for 50 years as a theatre matron at Central Middlesex Hospital. At 72, she has very fond memories of her athletic days back home in Ghana and London.  Amankwaah participated in the 1974 Commonwealth Games and started working in the NHS in 1975 and retired in March 2024.

Who is Rose Amankwaah?

She is a Ghanaian-British national who is famed for her love for athletics. She was an international sprinter who represented Ghana in different global athletic competitions while training as a nurse in the UK.

Born in Kumasi, Ghana, Amankwaah was the youngest of nine siblings but she was specially gifted in speed. She discovered she had a knack for sports and progressed through the school rankings. First in the long and high jump and then in the sprints and she enjoyed it so much. However, it is one of her coaches at school who discovered her talent.

rose amankwaah

Rose Amankwaah Photo/Kilburn Times

“We had a coach called Mr Lawson and he told me I was wasting my time on long jump and high jump and that he wanted to train me in the sprints,” she recalled. I then went on to represent the Ashanti region and I came first. That’s how it all began,” she narrated.

In 1974, she moved to England with her brother after competing internationally for Ghana in athletics. It was her neighbour who encouraged her to pursue a career in nursing besides her sprinting gift. Despite everything, she never lost her passion for sports, and when she started her nursing studies, she made friends with some of the best sprinting stars in the world.

How Successful Was Her Athletic Career?

Rose Amankwaah has a decorated athletics career just as much as her 50-year-old nursing career. She is proud of the milestones she has achieved in her 72 years of life.

“If I was young now, I would love to go back to running,” she tells BBC. She broke records prior to the debut of her nursing profession which started in 1975. The retired UK nurse won a silver medal at the All Africa Games held in 1973 in Nigeria. She made history as Africa’s second-fastest woman in this 100m race. She followed it up with a gold medal at the Afro-Latin American Games in Mexico [1974] and later a relay bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games held the same year in New Zealand.

She loves the prestige in her demeanour whenever she recalls how much she gave in excelling in athletics and how it paid off handsomely.

“Being an athlete was wonderful. I really did enjoy it. I still watch athletics; the Diamond League, the World Championships, the Olympics. I even record it so I can watch it after work.”

rose amankwaah

Ghanaian-British nurse Rose Amankwaah is a former gold medalist in relay. Photo/MyLondon

Due to her love for athletics, Rose Amankwaah formative years in London weren’t easy and Linford Christie Stadium can attest to this.  She trained after school. She also spent a lot of years training at Thames Valley Stadium too.  The National Health Service (NHS) considered her and would allow to compete in major athletic events.

When Did Amankwaah Retire from Sprinting?

Amankwaah’s career in medicine took off as her career in athletics came to an end. She advanced through the NHS’s ranks after earning her nursing degree to work as a theater matron in west London. Her distinguished service at Central Middlesex Hospital earned her the renowned Silver Medal Award for exceptional achievement.

She attended to thousands of patients over the last 50 years, some who did not know that the friendly Ghanaian-British theatre matron was an international sprinting star. She had a sporty background, which surprised her hospital colleagues as well.

Linda Lonergan worked with Rose Amankwaah for 29 years and she only came to know about her athletics prowess just recently.

“I only found out recently – she’d kept it quiet all these years!” an amazed Lonegran said.

Now a mother of four and a grandmother of ten grandkids, her athletic gene is spread all over descendants. Her eldest son Kevin is a retired professional footballer turned a personal trainer. Additionally, her granddaughter is a professional gymnast competing for Great Britain on global levels. Two of her other grandkids are int dancing and football at Tottenham Hotspur Academy.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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