Track & Field News of 2014-06-11

‘Athletics is dying in Ghana’

Some concerned former national athletes, have asked the Ministry of Youth and Sports to compel the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA) to as a matter of urgency, come out with pragmatic efforts to save Ghana athletics before the sport dies completely.

Robert Hackman, E.C.O Addy and Peter Mensah, all, Commwealth Games medalists and Olympians, are worried that the GAA has not shown much concern about the dwindling fortunes of athletics which, once the pride of Ghana on the international stage.

In an exclusive interview with the Graphic Sports, the three former athletes expressed worry that there were no track and fields in Accra for athletics competitions, an evidence that the sport was dying in the country.

The three men met when Messrs Hackman and Mensah visited Mr Addy to sympathise with him on the death of his wife, Prof Marian Awura Ama Addy recently. They also presented an amount of an undisclosed money raised as donation from former athletes both home and abroad.

" We cannot sit down and painfully watch what used to be the pride of the country to die. Everyone who is interested in athletics must be concerned.

"What is happening to athletics is simply heart-breaking. In the past, we were feared by Jamaica and America when it came to the track and field.

Unfortunately, we have failed to build on the successes we chalked up then and have been completely overtaken by countries who, in the past were no match.

"The situation seems very bad as no one can even think of any athlete either at home or abroad to represent Ghana. This is only a reflection of poor planning and lack of foresight by those who run the sport now," the three men, representing generations of national stars, lamented.

Hackman, currently based in the USA, still holds the national records in the 3,000m steeplechase set at the Munich Games in 1972 and the 5,000m set in the USA in 1974.

Mr Addy, who is also the husband of the late Prof Marian Awura Ama Addy, was part of Ghana's gold in the 4x100m relay team at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, while Peter Mensah is the holder of the national 400m hurdle record set in Accra in 1975.

They said it was important that just as football had done and was reaping the benefits, the GAA should involve the former athletes who were eager to help to restore the sport.

"Efforts to get close to the GAA to offer any kind of support has not been welcomed, but we believe that the athletes will be motivated if they have former athletes to talk to and motivate them.

“Football has thrived because there are old footballers who the young ones look up to. Those in charge of the sport must try this in addition to building a strong technical base if they really want the sport to be revived, otherwise, whatever is done will be like pouring water in to a leaky bucket," they said.

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