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11.08.2004 Sports News

Gold medal winners to get 5000 dollars bonus

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Accra, Aug 11, GNA - Any Ghanaian athlete who wins gold medal at this year's Olympic Games which starts this Friday in Athens would get a cash reward of 5000 dollars in addition to all other packages announced earlier.

Addressing the press on Wednesday, Alhaji Rashid Bawa, Minister of State at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports further revealed that in addition to the package the President also contemplates a special reward scheme for athletes who return with the ultimate.

The Minister said at the moment, the Ministry has done everything within its powers to psyche and put the athletes in the right frame of mind to go for the ultimate that has eluded the country since it started participating in the Olympics.

Ghana would be represented at the Games by a 44-member contingent made up of 32 athletes and 11 officials who would participate in two events, Soccer and athletics.

Of the number of athletes, football alone takes over half with 22 players out of which 18 would be in the final team with four on stand by in case of an injury or red card to the first team.

Athletics on the other hand would have 11 members made up of eight men and three women.

Alhaji Bawa said the present contingent represents the country's best hope for winning a medal as they are all currently at the top of their disciplines.

"For football, Ghana has the best chance of continuing from where Cameroon and Nigeria left of by winning the gold for the third time since indications from their training grounds attest to it"

The Minister said that "To show the seriousness we attach to the soccer event, the GFA evoked the FIFA provision that states that players should be in camp at least 14 days before any major tournament, hence the team has had enough preparation to be on top of the world."

He said the results of the warm up matches the team has so far played with the team winning all eight matches played point to the fact that the team is in the best of shapes and would definitely progress from the group stage irrespective of the opposition."

He said such was the performance of the Meteors that Asamoah Gyan won the best player and the goal king at a tournament in Portugal, which involves the youth teams of a number of crack European clubs.

The Minister who just returned from Germany where he witnessed the final brush up of the athletes before they enplaned for Athens said he was happy with what happened there even though only five of the 11 athletes turned up.

He said his visit was very timely as he was able to provide immediate answers to some pertinent issues that cropped up and that all was well with the contingent.

On the subject of apparel that has been a thorny issue in recent past, the Minister said that has also been addressed and all the athletes have expressed their pleasure that for the first time they are being recognised for their effort.

He said for athletics even though the contingent is small as compared to other countries, it is littered with many of the medal hopefuls for the country and for that matter Africa.

The Minister said an athlete like Ignatius Gaisie had the best jump for the long jump this year whilst Margaret Simpson is the number one contender for the heptathlon in the world.

Alhaji Bawa also said Government was prepared to break all protocol to ensure that any incidents that might crop up during the Games are dealt with decisively to forestall what happened in Abuja when the athletes virtually had to threaten before an action was taken on their concerns.

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