With less than a week to go to the Ghana Athletics Association’s National Circuit Championships-2017 third leg in Kumasi-, anticipation is growing as the cream of the nation’s locally based athletes prepare to compete at the Baba Yara stadium on Saturday 15th April.
Hundreds of athletes drawn from the ten regions, Security Services, Ghana Education Service, and some tertiary institutions are expected in action during the one day event.
There has been some memorable moments during the first and second legs of the Circuit held at the Tamale Sports stadium and the El Wak stadium respectively this year. It includes the women’s 100m which has served as the major highlight of the Circuit since its inception in 2014.
Below are brief previews for some of the most anticipated events:
The major highlight of the Circuit this year has been the women’s 100m where Ashanti region’s finest sprinter Hor Halutie is set to renew her rivalry with 2016 Olympian Dorcas Gyimah. Gyimah has twice been beaten to second place by her younger rival at the Circuit.
Gyimah must however be given some credit after digging deep into her reserves to come back from a poor start to clinch second place at the El Wak leg of the Circuit.
On paper, there is very little to choose between the two athletes who both recorded personal best 11.68s at the El Wak stadium last month. But Hor never looks back once she gets into the drive phase of her race. A tough battle for first place is expected to ensue on the tracks in Kumasi on Saturday.
Evergreen Margaret Simpson stakes claim
The evergreen Margaret Simpson will attempt to continue her dominance in the women’s long jump and 100m hurdles events, having won both events comfortably in Tamale and El Wak.
The 2005 World Heptathlon bronze medalist was miles ahead of her competitors when winning the long jump with 5.76m (SB) and 14.64s in the 100m hurdles at the El Wak stadium.
The three-time African heptathlon champion will also attempt to snatch back first place from Mary Zuta Nartey in the women’s shot put event. Margaret lost out to her “javelin student”(Mary Zuta) at the El Wak leg of the Circuit.
The Ashanti region’s Sarfo Ansah will attempt to make it three wins out of three legs when he lines up for the men’s 200m, having won the Tamale leg in 21.24s and slightly improving his time to 21.21s to win again at the El Wak stadium.
He will have his Ashanti region compatriots Emmanuel Mensah and Stephen Opoku for company.
Men’s triple jump
2014 Youth Olympic Games participant Precious Attipoe will seek to maintain some momentum in Kumasi after jumping a personal best 15.80m to win the men’s triple jump at the El Wak leg of the Circuit.
He will be closely followed by the trio of Peter Ackah (15.72m), Samuel Addo (15.43m) and Emmanuel Okai (15.43m) who all crossed the 15m barrier in that event.
Conversely, Precious and Samuel both jumped 15.01m to take first and second place at the first leg of the Circuit in Tamale on 18th February.
The women’s 400m will be one of the events to watch the Circuit as the Ashanti region pair of Rafiatu Nuhu and Grace Obour come face- to-face again with the reigning Mini-GUSA 400m champion Hajuaha Brimah.
Rafiatu and Grace sprung a major surprise at the El Wak leg of the Circuit when they came behind to clinch first and second place with 55.10s and 55.25s respectively to take first and second place, as Hajuaha settled for third with 55.35s.
There was a major upset in the men’s 5000m final where Ashanti region’s Kwame Agyei crossed the finish line in 14m: 47.96 to take first place ahead of favourite Malik Yakubu who came a distant 9th in 15m: 25.01.
Another surprise package, the Central Region senior high school student William Amponsah took second in 14m: 54.27 while Matthew Nantiere took third in 15m: 05.89.
Well, Malik Yakubu was not only the only big gun to have fallen on the day. The list also included 2015 champion Prosper Goku and Godwin Adukpo on a day of a major upset.
It will be recalled Yakubu won the men’s 5000m at Tamale in 15m: 00.94, followed in second place by Matthew Nantiere in 15m: 03.60 while Prosper Goku came third in 15:03.72. Godwin Adukpo took fourth in 15m: 10.36.
It appears Yakubu has a mountain to climb to reclaim the number one spot having dominated the distance events in the country since 2016.
More to come……….