President Mahama applauds Martha Bissah for putting Ghana first

President Mahama has applauded 800m Youth Olympic Gold medalist Martha Bissah for putting country first despite not receiving all her per diem at the just ended Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

Bissah was also part of the National Athletics Team that won a historic six medals at the recent 19th African Athletics Championships in Marrakech-Morocco, despite not receiving any per diem or related expenses.

During a visit to the Flagstaff House on Monday, President Mahama bemoaned the demand for money by sportsmen and sportswomen as a key condition to represent Ghana in competitions as destroying the spirit of sports, saying that “moneycrazy” was gradually eroding the sense of patriotism and nationalism among Ghanaian sportsmen and sportswomen in recent times.

The President noted that monetary rewards must be secondary consideration, as the honour of representing Ghana ought to be the most important consideration, with recent agitations over money reaching an embarrassing level at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where the Black Stars boycotted training over the delayed payment of their appearance fees.

“The first objective of any sportsman should be the love for the nation,” President Mahama said in a publication in the Daily Graphic.

“If you get any bonuses it is secondary to the fact that you are representing your nation,” said the President when he received Nanjing Youth Olympics gold medalist, Martha Bissah, at the Flagstaff House last Monday.

Two weeks ago, Martha became the first Ghanaian to win an Olympic gold medal at any level after claiming victory in the women’s 800 metres at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China. She was led to the presidency by Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) chief, Prof. Francis Dodoo inthe company of her family.

Martha’s blistering run not only saw her make sporting history but also set a personal best and new national record of 2:04.90 minutes in the two-lap race.

The 17-year-old athlete is a former student of the Aduman Senior High School in the Ashanti Region.

Although President Mahama spoke against the phenomenon of “moneycrazy” which was gradually eating away the sense of national pride, he was not oblivious of the fact that sports stars who perform for the nation deserve to be rewarded.

In that context, he directed the Minister of Youth and Sports to ensure that bonuses due athletes who represented Ghana at the Africa Athletics Championship in Morocco in May were paid without any further delay.

Turning to the golden girl of athletics, the President heaped praises on her for bringing glory and honour to the nation for which he presented a personal gift of GHc10,000 to the young Olympian.

President Mahama said he watched the historic race live on television, adding “this is one race I will want to watch over and over again.”

He charged the sports ministry, the GOC and the athletics federation to revive the annual national athletics championship and institute a system “where we should be able to catch talents early enough”.