Nii Odartey Lamptey, the coach of the nation’s first Olympic gold medalist at any level of sports, Martha Bissah, has cleared the air on speculations that Ghana Athletics Association President Prof. Francis Dodoo had fought Martha Bissah’s mother over a cash donation by President Mahama.
President Mahama gave a cash donation of ¢10,000.00 to Martha Bissah after the later visited the Flagstaff House following her historic gold medal at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing.
Bissah became the first Ghanaian to win a gold medal at any level of sports after clinching victory in the 800m final.
But a report dated 2nd September, 2014, on www.sportscrusader.com quoted Madam Afuah Ampomah as having engaged in a heated argument with Prof. Dodoo after the latter allegedly tried to stash the money into the accounts of the Ghana Athletics Association.
In an exclusive interview with www.liquidsportsghana.com, Nii Odartey Lamptey rubbished the rumours having witnessed everything at first hand at the Flagstaff House.
What happened at the Flagstaff House
“I was there, I was personally with them,” he said.
“He (President Mahama) raised up a brown envelope which contained money and he said personally he was giving this money to the girl, who was Martha Bissah. The money was handed to Prof. Dodoo then Prof. Dodoo gave it to Martha. So Martha put the money on the table.
“The President then said we should all come for picture taking. After the picture taking, there was another man, I don’t know him. This was the first time I was meeting him. He picked the money from the table and went out.
Nii added that Martha’s mother became agitated after the family exited the Flagstaff House without the money:
“So we all came out looking for the man. The mother started complaining, where is the money, where is the money? I asked her to exercise patience because the one who brought us here is inside so when he comes we will know where the money has gone.
“So when Prof. Dodoo came, he said that the man who picked the money has invited us to lunch at Afrikiko Restaurant. Prof. took us in his car and drove us to the restaurant.”
“So we went there and met him. After finishing eating, I went to Prof. Dodoo and said we wanted to go. Prof called the girl and gave her the money.”
Funding Martha Bissah’s future scholarship
Nii Odartey continued that Prof. Dodoo asked the family to keep the money very well because Martha was going to need money to process her visa and other travelling expenses to continue her education in the USA on a student academic scholarship.
“He said there is one thing he wants us to do: that we should make sure we keep the money very well because he is looking for a scholarship in USA for her.
“We should make sure we take good care of the money that was given to Martha. He said previously some athletes got sponsorship from corporate bodies but that those who went later did not get sponsors and the federation did not have enough money. So he said that they should keep the money that the President has given wisely.
“So I said I will make sure we will do that. That is what Prof. said.”
No heated argument between Prof. Dodoo and Madame Afuah Ampomah
Nii Odartey was adamant that there was no heated argument between Professor Dodoo and Martha Bissah’s mother at no point in time.
“There was no other conversation between Prof and Martha’s family after that until when we were leaving.
“It’s not Prof. Dodoo who took the money but that man took it, I don’t know his name and the mother was complaining bitterly about the money that was taken. So I don’t know if it is because that money was taken away that is why she was complaining or any other thing. So apart from that, there was no misunderstanding.
Martha’s Family and money issues
Having served as guardian and coach of Martha Bissah since 2001, Nii revealed that he has had some encounters with the Bissah family over money in time past.
“As for money issues, this was the second time I was having an encounter with the family over this. When the girl came back from Botswana, somebody called me and told me the mother came around and asked where is that coach who always collects money from the athletes when they go out to run? After China, I did not have any confrontation with them.
“Media misunderstanding Bissah’s mothers comments”
Nii Odartey Lamptey also provided a plausible explanation over what might have happened during the media’s interview with Martha Bissah’s mother.
“One thing I can say is that, the mother is from far away Western Region and they way they talk is different from the way we talk. When you ask this woman anything and she is talking, you will think she is annoyed but she is not.
“I believe that is what happened. I’m sure the radio station did not understand what the woman was saying.”
It is interesting that Martha Bissah stayed at Prof. Dodoo’s private residence prior to the Youth Olympic in Nanjing and when she returned home.
She even gave her per diem allowances from the Commonwealth Games ($3,500) to Prof. Dodoo for safe keeping and subsequently retrieved it on the morning of the visit to the Flagstaff House. This story was confirmed by Nii Odartey Lamptey who said he was only given a fraction of the total amount by Bissah’s family after they arrived in Kumasi later on.
“I was not given any of the money they got from the President. They added the money she got from Glasgow and China, divided it into three and gave me one,” he summed up.