Ms Martha Bissah, Ghana’s first ever Olympic gold medalist, on Monday presented the gold medal she won at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, to President John Dramani Mahama at the Flagstaff House, Kanda.
The 17-yearl-old former student of Aduman Senior High School set a new national record in the 800-metre race when she beat the much-fancied Hawi Alemu Negeri of Ethiopia and Germany?s Mareen Kalis in a time of 2:4.90 minutes.
Ms. Bissah was accompanied to the Presidency by officials of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC), Ministry of Youth and Sports, her coaches and family members.
President Mahama showered praises on her and said ?If you have been able to start this young then the future is bright.?
He said the girl?s success had shown that if the country invested proportionately in the other sporting disciplines like it had done for football, it would reap substantially from it.
President Mahama said he watched the race many times and admitted know he did not have much faith that Martha would win given the nation?s record in long distance races.
?We should create a system where we catch young talents and groom them,? he said and directed the Ministry of Youth and Sports to pay the champion?s outstanding bonuses.
He appealed to athletes and other sports men and women to be guided by love for nation and not love for material benefits when representing the nation in international tournaments.
“Consider any material benefits as a bonus for representing your country and love of nation should be the first objective in representing our country in any sports event before anything else.”
The President suggested the re-introduction of the biennial athletes meeting to enable the country to recapture its glorious days.
President Mahama made a personal donation of GHC10, 000 to Ms. Bissah for doing the nation proud.
Mr Mahama Ayariga, the Minister of Youth and Sports, said the Ministry was working closely with the GOC to develop the lesser known sports aside the construction of sports academies across the country.
Professor Francis Dodoo, the President of the GOC, said the gold medal was the first-ever Olympic gold medal to be won by Ghana at any level of any sports.
Over the last four years, he said, the Ghana Athletics ssociation had introduced reforms to improve the performances of the nation?s athletes while at the same time, inculcating in them the spirit of patriotism.