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GAA Update: May 18th

posted 2 Jun, 16 • Category: News • Comments: 0

What a busy but rewarding one last weekend was for Ghana Athletics! Between US college conference competitions and our 4th National Circuit Championship, there were numerous excellent performances by our athletes. The Circuit competition at El-Wak Stadium was also graced by our new Honorable Minister for Youth and Sports, and it was a treat for our Ghanaian athletes to race, jump, and throw in front of the Minister.

Two national records fell in the US, with Nadia Eke extending her own triple jump record to a whopping 13.75 meters in Clermont, Florida on Saturday; that same day, in Huntsville, Alabama, Julia Agawu added about 4 meters to her national discus record by tossing the implement a distance of 53.96 meters. Both records are also A-standard qualifying marks for next month's African Championships in Durban, south Africa. The records also represent the 6th and 7th of the 2016 outdoor season (and the 21st and 22nd of the year, if indoor records are counted).
In-form Flings Owusu-Agyapong also surpassed the Olympic 100m qualifying time for the 3rd time in 5 weeks, with a personal best clocking of 11.26 seconds on, you guessed it, Saturday May 14th. A day prior, Persis William-Mensah (11.59s) and Janet Amponsah (11.65s) had joined Flings and Gemma Acheampong, by also breaking into Africa's Top-20 in the 100m sprint; our four top women are now in Top-20, continuing the promise of a formidable relay team with Olympic qualifying potential.
The week also birthed a realization of the potential of our women's 4x400m relay; after Vivian Mills produced a scintillating 53.18s run to win an international meeting in Dijon, France, four US-based women all produced personal bests in an attempt to stake claims on a prospective relay team for Durban: 2nd year student, Akua Obeng-Akrofi led the quartet of personal bests with a time of 53.95 seconds, while final-year student Cheyenne Tunti (54.47s), third-year student Bless Dupeh (54.88s), and final-year student Stephanie Aidoo (54.99s) all broke the 55-second barrier (it is worth remembering that just a week ago, Ghana-based Navy officer Agnes Abrocquah had produced a magical 53.89s race in Kumasi).
Elizabeth Dadzie, Emmanuel Dasor, Samson Laari, Agnes Abu, John Ampomah, and Atsu Nyamadi all congregated at the same conference championship in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for their respective universities--the Conference-USA championship--to produce some outstanding performances. Elizabeth Dadzie won the long jump and heptathlon titles, the latter with a personal best of 5,599 points, while also coming away with a season best of 13.49s in the 100m hurdles. Emmanuel Dasor produced very respectable times, by any barometer, of 20.81s in the 200m and 45.82s in the 400m. For Samson Laari, a win in the 5000m was buttressed by a 3rd place finish in the 800m and a 2nd-place in the 1500m, where he missed the national record by three-tenths of a second. Agnes Abu brought home two gold medals in the 800m and 1500m, also barely missing the national record in the latter race. John Ampomah repeated last year's feat as Conference-USA champion in the javelin, while Atsu Nyamadi won his first outdoor Conference-USA gold medal in the decathlon.
Not to be outdone, Jordan Yamoah, currently 2nd-ranked in Africa in the pole vault finished the weekend with an extremely respectable vault of 5.33 meters.
On the home front, at the El-Wak National Circuit Championships, some very fast times were produced in spite of the state of the track. The 100m race was the most exciting of the men's races, with Shadrack Opoku-Agyeman, Desmond Aryee, and Martin Owusu-Antwi providing a blanket finish that relied on the electronic time's photo-finish equipment to separate Shadrack (10.40s) from Desmond (10.41s) and Martin (10.42s).
The women's sprint race--the 200m--saw the women of Ghana Navy, Agnes Abrocquah and Josephine Anokye come back from a significant deficit in the last 40 meters of the race to relegate Kate Agyeman (last month's winner in Sekondi) to 3rd place; Josephine won in 24.03s, while Agnes--last week's 400m sensation in Kumasi, racing on Saturday with a bout of malaria--finished a close second in 24.10s.
This season's high jump "twins"--Abigail Kwarteng and Regina Yeboah--continued their duel, this time splitting the points as both again cleared 1.75 meters, the B-qualifying standard for Durban. Another duel that was fascinating to watch was the one between high-schoolers Sakat Lariba and Elizabeth Azuure in the 5000 meter race, with Sakat retaining her 2016 dominance. In the men's 10,000 meters, in-form Malik Yakubu pulled away from Prosper Awasiame (who had fallen heavily in the first lap and lost considerable ground, but then got up and worked his way courageously back into contention) and high-schooler Malik Yussif with a devastating sprint finish over the last 250 meters.
As always, the updated rankings are attached and provide indication of athletes' ranking in Africa's Top-50, and whether they have met the A or B qualifying standard for Durban, both reflected in red italics in the 5th column of the chart.
Meanwhile, continue to follow Ghana Athletics via our Facebook page, where you can also watch some of the athletes' outstanding performances, and send them missives of encouragement.

Source: Ghana Athletics Association (GAA)

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