Benjamin Azamati

Mustafa Ussif, the Sports Minister and Dr Bella Bello Bitugu, the Director of the University of Ghana Sports Directorate, have congratulated Benjamin Azamati for breaking a 22-year-old national 100m record.

Azamati finished ahead of the pack in heat 8 of the Texas relays on Friday afternoon in a time of 9.97 seconds, and in the process qualified to compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

In an interview on the Joy Sports Link on Saturday, Dr. Bitugu expressed great happiness after receiving the news.

“I feel so happy, excited, justified and fulfilled with my team at the University of Ghana from the management to the coaches. This is what I call the silent, patient investment. This guy [Azamati] was playing football and we realized that he could make it,” he told Nathaniel Attoh.

“We couldn’t take him to Tamale because he had developed some health issues on his skin but we kept our eye on him and within a year he was flying like it was nobody’s business. Clearly, I am so happy. He came a few months ago to use our facilities to train.”

He then went on to highlight the importance of schools and colleges in sports here in Ghana.

“This [feat by Azamati] is telling you that it is schools and college sports which provides the answers now. The answer lies in schools and colleges sports. [They should] encourage them. In the basic schools, sports is dead and at the SHS level, sports is on the intensive operating table and the only ones who carry it through are the universities,” he said.

“We don’t even have full complement because there are so many barriers. It is important that the policymakers should understand that the future of sports in this country lies in schools and colleges sports and Azamati is a clear evidence,” he concluded.

Ussif took to Facebook to praise Azamati for the historic feat and added the government’s plan to unearth more talents.

“Congratulations to Benjamin Azamati for his historic 9.97s run, which broke the 22-year-old national 100m record held by Leo Myles-Mills and also qualifying him for the Tokyo Olympics. Azamati’s background as a former school athlete and his remarkable rise to prominence, is the reason we want to revamp and pay more attention to inter-school competitions to be able to unearth and develop more of such talents for our country.”

Azamati joins John Paul Amoah and Nadia Eke as the Ghanaian sprinters to have qualified so far for the summer Olympics.