Dodou (Capy) Joof, president the Gambia National Olympic Committee GNOC, has told president Adama Barrow that the overall achievement of the Gambian delegation to the recently concluded African Games in Morocco is indicative of the great potential in Gambian sports.
Speaking at State House on Friday when the delegation was received by President Barrow, Mr Joof, a former Gambian athletics star and captain who is also the current president of the Gambia Athletics Association GAA, said The Gambia was among 52 African countries that took part in the 12th edition of the African Games represented by Athletics, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Judo and Swimming associations.
“The unremitting strive and commitment of the GNOC to ensure the athletes are adequately prepared paid great dividend as the performances put up by these vivacious and spirited athletes were unimaginably impressive,” he said, and went on to give the delegation’s performance results as follows.
Ø Judo and swimming eliminated in their first round
Ø Beach Volleyball women eliminated at semi-finals whilst the men won the Gold and are African Champions
Ø Basketball 3 on 3 lost at the quarterfinals
Ø The relay team 4x100m took 4thin the finals breaking a national record with a timing of 39.44sec. They are Ranked 4th in the continent.
Ø Men 100m Adama Jammeh exited with injury at the semi-finals whilst, Ebrahima Camara took 7th in finals
Ø Men 200m both athletes exited at the first round
Ø Women 100m Fatou Sanneh lost at the semi-finals whilst Gina Bass won the Silver medal breaking the National Record
Ø Women 200m Gina defeated Africa Fastest women to win the Gold with a New National Record.
Mr Joof went on to reveal that overall, three national records were broken in addition to the fact that this is the first time The Gambia won gold in any team sport at a high level, continental or global.
“It is also the second time Gina Bass has won a gold medal for the Gambia, the first being at the Islamic Games in Baku Azerbaijan.
Most importantly, the timing for Gina has earned her qualification to the IAAF World Championships in Doha next month and the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year,” a visibly delighted Mr Joof told the president
He also said the other athletes of Beach volleyball and other sports will have to attend other continental and Olympic qualification competitions for the possibility of gaining their qualification for the TOKYO 2020.
“It is indeed a great honour for such an achievement to be experienced during my tenure as President of the GNOC and my executive board.
We are indeed very proud of these energetic, vibrant, self-motivated, success driven athletes who are relentless in their efforts to bring glory to the Gambia,” Mr Joof said.
He assured President Barrow that the GNOC will continue to collaborate with the International Olympic Committee IOC and other parent partners to ensure that all budgets allocated are exhausted in supporting the athletes’ preparations for qualification events.
“However, we continue to seek your support in this direction through the ministry and the friends of the Gambia to ensure we continue winning and celebrating more medals,” Mr Joof said.
He urged government to make it a policy to ensure that all new schools built have sporting facilities, as this would expose our children to different sports at an early age giving them the opportunity to make a choice among the different sports without limiting their talents and skills to just one sport.
“Your Excellency, sports in The Gambia may have been viewed in the past as irrelevant to national development.
I assure you that sports positively contributes to a wide range of shared outcomes which offer real support and contribute to the well-being and quality of life of our diverse communities.
It is therefore important for Government to consider providing salary for all national coaches to help them focus more on the athletes. They are all volunteering and we appreciate their contribution.
Once again Your Excellency, we sincerely appreciate your time to receive and personally congratulate the athletes, coaches and the delegation,” Mr Joof told the president. In response and in few words President Barrow presented plots of land to the gold winning team members and D50, 000 to the national associations that took part in the Games.