Today, we are devoting this space to 17-year-old Martha Bissah, who has brought honour to Ghana by winning an Olympic gold medal at the ongoing Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.
Last Saturday, Martha became the first Ghanaian to win an Olympic gold medal at any level when she ran her personal best and made a new national 800-metre record of 20:04.90 on her debut at the world stage. Martha had won a bronze medal at the 2014 African Youth Games in May.
Not very much is known about Martha, except that we know she is a former student of Aduman Senior High School and may have been spotted during a schools sports festival. Her coach and guardian, Corporal Nii Odartey Lamptey of the Ghana Police Service, also deserves a lot of commendation for the determination he instilled in Martha.
Martha’s feat is the result of determination and focus, and an example of what a little support for the lesser known or less glamorous sports can achieve for the country. No doubt, the country has abundant sports talents that have not been properly tapped for the benefit of the country.
We are of the opinion that as a country, we have not given much attention to areas as boxing, which Ghana is known to have great talent in. The over-concentration of national resources on football has been detrimental to the development of sports as a whole.
We call for the redirection of attention to other sporting disciplines through higher budgetary allocation. Provision must also be made for facilities to be built for these sports, which we are convinced cost far less to develop.
More attention should also be directed at “catching them young” by providing sports facilities for basic and second-cycle schools, while we promote the schools sports festivals which, in the past, produced great talents for the country.
We share in the joy of Martha and her optimism that the journey has just begun.
As she indicated after the race, many believe that in Africa, the middle and long-distance races are the preserve of the East and North Africans but we dare say that with a little more support, Martha and many more like her can achieve great laurels for Ghana.
Every support must be given to Martha and her trainer as well as others who may not be well known because they are not into football but have great potential to win honours for the country.
We look forward to amassing more gold medals at the 2016 Olympic games and other international sports festivals.