Former President of the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA) Ambassador George Haldane Lutterodt, has called on the National Sports Authority (NSA) to institute a probe into the reason behind the disqualification of Ghana’s 4x100m relay team at the finals of the recently-held Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
According to Mr Lutterodt, the athletes who were gold medal prospects had been denied the opportunity to make history due to the negligence of some officials and “heads must roll.”
“This is a huge failure on the part of the GAA and the leadership must either resign or be sacked to restore confidence into athletics,” he stated in an interview with the Times Sports on Wednesday.
The NSA, he said, must investigate and not hesitate to crack the whip on officials who were responsible for the disappointment the athletes and Ghanaians as a whole suffered.
Ghana’s 4x100m relay team was disqualified despite finishing third to qualify for the finals of the Commonwealth Games due to technical violation, after coaches failed to inform officials of their decision to replace Joseph Paul Amoah with Abdul-Rasheed Saminu in the heats.
The GAA had explained they decided to rest Amoah to enable rest and prepare for his 200m final.
Per the rules of the race, any country that decides to make changes to their team must do so at least one hour to the scheduled time. The technical violation, hence, denied Ghana a place in the finals and was replaced with the Gambia.
Many athletic enthusiasts in Ghana and beyond had since questioned the decision behind Team Ghana’s failure to inform organisers of their changes prior to the race.
Ambassador Lutterodt believed that the 4x100m team was denied their best chance of winning a gold medal for the country.
“Collectively, the GAA failed the team and the country with their actions and must be held responsible by the NSA and other authorities in charge of sports in the country,” he stated.
The disqualification, he said, was due to incompetence on the part of the officials and no fault of the athletes and authorities must deal with the situation with seriousness.
“The worst thing you can do to an athlete was to fail them due to incompetence which could affect the confidence of the athletes going forward,” he stressed.
He recalled a similar incident during the Atlanta 1996 Olympics when Ghana’s relay team was disqualified, and after arriving in Ghana, the Chief Coach was sacked and the GAA was consequently dissolved.
“When we allow such things to go on as business as usual, it would affect the country going into the 2023 African Games and other international competitions,” he stated.
He, however, commended the medalists for making the nation proud at the Commonwealth Games, adding that they should continue working hard for the African Games.
“The five medals showed that we did not only make a representation but came home with something which we could build on and improve in the African Games and next Commonwealth Games,” he said.
He also advised the government to properly invest in raising young talents that would represent the country by financing school sports.
“There are very young and talented athletes within the basic schools across the country and efforts must be made to discover and nurture those talents to win medals for the country,” he stated.
He added that countries like Nigeria and Kenya were doing great things to nurture talents which were evident at the Commonwealth Games and Ghana must learn from their neighbours.
“We must go back to the drawing board and get things on the right track as we did in the past to ensure that Ghana returns to become a force to reckon with as far as sports is concerned,” he advised.
BY MICHAEL D. ABAYATEYE