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GAA reacts to GNOC Media Report on athletes selection for Olympic Games

Dec 12, 2011, 1:12 PM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh

The Gambia Athletics Association (GAA) has strongly reacted to the publication made in two of the country’s leading newspapers’ last week editions - The Point and the Daily Observer - by the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) that they will organize a national athletics championship to select athletes for the Olympic Games due to take place in London next year.

The GNOC through its first vice president Ms Beatrice Allen has announced that they will organise a national athletics championship to select two more athletes in addition to Suwaibou Sanneh, who has automatically qualified for the Olympics after meeting the qualification standard during the athletics championship in Daegu.

Ms Allen, who made this pronouncement at a meeting with members of the GNOC media committee last Saturday, said the GNOC would organize a national athletics championship to select two athletes (one male and one female) for the London Olympic Games.

“We will identify two other athletes in addition to Suwaibou during the selection process for the London Games,” she said, adding: “The selection process will include one male and one female with young athlete sensation Fatou Sowe likely to be included in the selection process due to her wonderful performance during the athletics championship held in Singapore.”

Upon reading the article in the newspapers, the GAA took one week to act in response to what it claims to be “not the responsibility of the GNOC but rather the responsibility or mandate of the GAA to do that process”.

The full text of the GAA press release signed by its media and publicity committee Arthur Jackson reads:

The Gambia National Olympic committee (GNOC) has published in The Point and Daily Observer newspapers that they will organize a National championship in athletics to select athletes for the Olympics. I wonder what is going on if this should happen when there is an association responsible for athletics in the country. I do not intend pulling punches with anyone, but rather owe it to the public to set the records straight.

The only body recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) is The Gambia Athletics Association (GAA). Therefore, the responsibility of managing, organizing and selecting of athletes remains the mandate of the GAA. National associations and federations are the supreme bodies responsible for the administration and management of their respective sports. It is these associations that come together to elect the Bureau of the National Olympic committees, which is our case in the GNOC.

The GNOC is therefore an establishment of the representatives of all Olympic sports associations in the country. The GNOC therefore is and remains the facilitator for our participation at the Olympic Games. It is through the GNOC that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sends funds to facilitate the national associations’ participation at the Olympic Games. The IOC also provides funds through the Olympic Solidarity for the capacity building of coaches, athletes and administrators.

The only institution that can claim to be the supreme body this is charged with the responsibility of monitoring the activities of national associations in this country is the National Sports Council (NSC). This council is established by the government by an act of the National Assembly and endorsed by the President.

Regarding the qualification of athletes for next year’s Olympic Games, I refer to article D, number two (2) of the qualifying standards set by the IAAF/IOC for individual events. It states that performances from 1st May 2011 to 8 July 2012 shall be eligible. Therefore, any performance of 2010 is not valid and will not be accepted.

The best three female athletes in the country at the moment are Saruba Colley, Fanny Shonobi and Gina Bass. Gina Bass is the youngest and best female sprinter who ran and reached the semi-finals of the Girls 100 metres at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Isle of Man on 9th September this year with a performance of 12.24 seconds, setting her personal best record.

In light of all the aforementioned, I expect the GNOC to maintain the status quo and request the GAA to submit at the designated time, the names and performance of the selected athletes that will represent The Gambia at the Olympics. I trust that the GNOC will live up to expectation and not assume the responsibility of the sporting associations.

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