Top Olympian Gina Bass has called on the Gambia National Olympic Committee to consider increasing athletes’ allowances ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Athletics might be one of the most lucrative sports in the world, but 23-year-old Gina barely earns a thousand dollar in an Olympic event as she represents her country. “The highest ever allowance money I received from the national Olympic Committee is D70,000 dalasi and that was in 2016 when we traveled to Rio de Janeiro for one month. I used it to buy a plot of land which I’m even struggling to construct.”
Gina is the first athlete to win gold and silver medals for The Gambia at the Islamic Solidarity Games in a record timing of the fastest female athlete of the country ever at 11.39 seconds in 100 metres and 22.92 seconds in 200 metres in 2018. Despite her achievement on the lane, she struggles to fend for herself off the lane.
“Sometimes It’s hard with me and family. Imagine when you have a family to take care of, especially your mother. Normally when I receive my little allowances, I give it all to the family to survive,” she tells The Chronicle.
In 2016, GNOC set-up an athlete commission that is mandated among other things to look into the welfare and development of Gambian athletes. Adama Jammeh, an athlete who heads the commission, is hoping it will trigger an improvement ahead of Tokyo 2020 Games.
“I hope the situation will change and that we can recieve more for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo. But also, all the Olympic associations and the athletes have to unite to fight for a common goal.”
Sheriff Cham, a fan of Gambian athletics now based in the U.S said Gambian athletes deserve better pay and treatment from the authorities. He accused the authorities of being busy paying themselves per diems at the expense of the athletes. The Chronicle cannot verify this claim.
Gina, who’s currently training at the High Performance Training Centre in Dakar, is the second Gambian athlete in to clock the qualification standard for the Olympics in 2016 Rio Games, after Suwaibou Sanneh made it to the 2012 London Games in 100 Metres.