Head coach of the record-breaking national men’s 4×100 m relay team, Professor Andrew Owusu wants the government, ministry of sports and Ghana Athletics Association to come up with ways of supporting athletes when they graduate from their current universities in the USA.
Ghana’s quartet of Sean Safo-Antwi, Benjamin Azamati, Emmanuel Yeboah and Joseph Paul Amoah broke the national record which stood at 38.12s to make the relay finals in a time of 38.08s.
Over the years, the team has showed so much promise after excelling at the World relays last year. However, the members of the relay team are heavily supported by universities in the USA where they study as a result of scholarships schemes.
Professor Owusu, who handled the relay team at the just ended Olympics, told Joy Sports measures to support the athletes after graduating must be in place.
“I am going to count my response as a warning and the reason why I am going to count my response as a warning is that, this is something that has battled Ghana Athletics for a long time.
“When our athletes are in school in the USA, the schools are basically taking care of them, but after they graduate they have to make a living, so without the support what happens is that the career takes a dive not because they don’t have the potential but because they have to make a choice.
“So as a country, we really have to be serious about the African Games coming up, which we are hosting, Also for 2024, we have to start providing some serious support for these athletes because think about where Joe is right now, an Olympic semifinalist. It will be so sad if we cannot support Joe after he is done with NCA eligibility, as well as Sean, as well as all the others”.
Benjamin Azamati and Joseph Paul who double as national record holders for 100m and 200m respectively are currently on the training program of West Texas A &M and the Coppin State University, but like in the case of Nadia Eke who had problems at the Olympics because of a lack of competition after graduating, Professor Owusu explains that will be counter productive
“You are not going to find Joe in just a few years. You can’t replace him. The level they have gotten to took so many years to get there and the cheaper option is actually to support them to get them to the next level, and so that is the warning that I would like to share with all who are interested and wish these guys well. As a nation we need to look at being able to support them. This year we got a bit of support, and you can see the huge difference it made so imagine we had a long term sustained plan to support them.”
Ghana’s relay team finished 7th in the final and were disqualified for lane violation, however next year’s world athletics championships in the USA, the 2023 African Games to be staged in Ghana and the 2024 Olympics scheduled for France will be great avenues for the grabbing medals.
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