In what can best be described as a direct interference in the affairs of the Ghana Athletics Association, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Mustapha Ahmed has single handedly selected 800m runner Martha Bissah to participate in the upcoming All Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville despite not meeting the qualification standard.
Bissah has been registered by Ghana for the Games with Athlete no: 0002726.
In selecting Bissah, the Minister has overlooked the nation’s top ranked women’s 800m runner Agnes Abu who has run a season’s best 2.06.27m, but has yet to qualify for the Games having failed to meet the required A-standard mark of 2:01.6m & B-standard mark of 2:04.2m.
Bissah failed to qualify for the Games after recording 2:11.84 min at the just ended GAA Special All Africa Games qualifier at the El Wak stadium last Friday.
Bissah had run a season’s best 2.08.27m on 18-July, going into the special competition at the El Wak stadium and needed to run at least the B-standard time of 2:04.6 to qualify.
At the same GAA competition at the El Wak stadium, African javelin silver medalist Mary Zuta Narteh, who was yet to qualify for the Games, booked her place in Congo-Brazzaville after throwing a season’s best 50.65m.
Zuta’s new mark is an automatic qualifier for the Congo-Brazzaville Games as the Ghana Athletics Association’s A-standard for the javelin stands at 49.58m.
Zuta, who is also the reigning overall women’s National Circuit Champion, had thrown a season’s best 46m going into the competition and is now a sure bet for the 50th African Games.
No consultation with GAA
In taking the decision, the Minister of Youth and Sports did not consult the Ghana Athletics Association whose President is currently at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
The GAA is considering its response to the latest development which could have dire consequences for the sport as the IAAF strongly frowns upon government interference in the affairs of its affiliate associations.
It will be recalled that the Ghana Olympic Committee was banned by the International Olympic Committee over government interference.
It remains to be seen what action the Ghana Athletics Association will take over this untimely decision by the Minister of Youth and Sports.
Background to the GAA’s Selection Criteria
Consistent with its aim of providing fair and transparent selection standards for the national team, the Ghana Athletics Association has been releasing its selection criteria for major international competitions since 2010.
The criteria set out the entry standards (both A and B) athletes have to meet before consideration for national assignments.
In January 2015, the qualification standards were released for this year’s the 2015 All African Games and World Championships.
This was the 5 time that the Prof. Francis Dodoo led GAA had released its selection criteria at the beginning of the athletics season. Hitherto, selection for the national team was done by the Chief Athletics Coach and his technical team.
Credit: Ghana Athletics Association