The 26th Ghana University Sports Association Games (GUSA) Legon 2020 is a distant memory now.
But without any shred of a doubt its athletics championship held from 8th to 10th January will be best remembered in history as one of the best if not the best in terms of the quality and depth of performances produced by athletes from the 11 public universities- i.e. in the electronic timing era of the games which started in 2016.
A record 14 championship records were set at the 3-day event which took place at the University of Ghana Legon Stadium.
The figure is double the number of records set at the 2018 GUSA Games held at the University for Development Studies in Tamale, underlying the quality of performances by the athletes.
Interestingly, the 14 new records were evenly split between the males and females and cut across both track and field.
Added to this fact was the record attendance recorded at the soon to be completed UG Stadium which provided the scene for many memorable events.
For starters, many spectators came to the stadium hoping to catch a glimpse of Ghana’s medalists at the 2019 African Games most especially the University of Ghana Legon (UG) sprinter Benjamin Kwaku Azamati.
True to form, Benjamin stole the show in the shorter sprint, taking the 100m crown with a 10.60s effort while his national team compatriots the University of Cape Coast’s Rose Yeboah eclipsed the GUSA high jump record of 1.75m with a personal best 1.85m (CR) and the triple jump record with a leap of 12.02m (CR). Further UG’s Grace Obour erased the GUSA 400m record in a time of 53.07(CR).
But the spectators were in for a big surprise in the men’s vertical jump events especially the pole vault event.
UG’s Ali Yahaya produced an awe inspiring performance which captured the hearts and minds of those at the venue as he shattered Kofi Nimo’s 3.86m (CR) GUSA record set in 1994.
The spectators cheered at every jump as he left the rest of the field trailing. His closest challenger came in the shape of his UG teammate Elvis Appiah Asumadu who came second with 3.50m.
There was yet a lot more thrills in the vertical jumps where another athlete from the hosts, this time, Cadman Dufu sprang another surprise with a 2.05m (CR) leap to erase the Championship record of 2.04m.
The spectators gave a lot of applause for the lanky William Amponsah, from the University of Education Winneba, who smashed the GUSA 5000m with 14:19.02(CR) and 10,000m with 29:53.07(CR) on day 1 and day 3 respectively.
Many were awed by the power and endurance displayed by the long distance runner who run his races at an increasing pace, destroying the field in both instances. It was by far the most commanding performances at the three-day event.
Meanwhile, the University for Development Studies shone brightly in the relay events where they set new records in both the women’s 4x100m event with 45.94s (CR) and the 4x400m with 3minutes:44.39(CR) respectively. They cupped it off with a spectacular come from behind run by former GUSA sprints champion Sarfo Ansah to steal gold from the grips of UG in the 4x100m with a record 40.27s(CR).
Not to be undone, the University of Education Winneba (UEW), anchored by the 400m winner Gad Owusu (46.83s) grabbed gold in the men’s 4x400m event in a record time of 3minutes: 09.25(CR). The race will be best remembered for its competitiveness, with the hosts taking second place in 3minutes:09.40.
UEW’s Charles Baafi set a championship record of 1:51.16(CR) in the 800m final while UDS’ Grace Aduntira equally won the 400m hurdles crown with a record 1:01.03 to obliterate the record set by her former teammate Christian Bakika in 2018.
UEW’s Faustina Owusu took the distinguished honour as the only athlete to have broken a record in the throws event after producing a throw of 40.92m (CR) in the women’s discus throw.
There were many outstanding performances over the 3-days of competition with unprecedented records by GUSA’s standards.
The championship was not only about record breaking performances. It will also be remembered for its close finishes, surprise winners and the arrival of the next generation of athletic stars.
Pole Vault champion Ali Yahaya, high jumper Cadman Dufu and 400m winner Gad Owusu have put themselves in national reckoning after those performances.
Further, African Games gold medalist Rose Amoanima Yeboah has met the entry standards for the World U-20 Championship and the African Championship after her stellar 1.85m performance. Kate Agyeman’s all-around performance after anchoring UDS to victory in the 4x100m and 4x400m makes her a good prospect for the national team.
It is hoped the athletes will make further improvements in their performances as the new athletics season locally gets underway in February to meet the standards set for the international competitions in 2020.
Meanwhile, some of the innovations employed by the Host Broadcaster and the University of Ghana Computing Systems (UGCS) multimedia team raised the bar particularly in the live broadcast of the event this time live on their You Tube channel, radio, television and other social media platforms. On an average day, their production team was equipped with 5 cameras and a drone.
Significantly, their live stream on YouTube attracted over 12.3k viewers in three days of the athletics championships. Nii Adokwei Codjoe, Executive Producer for radio and television for the host broadcast, said their objective for covering the games was met.
Also, for the first time in the history of the Games, the three-athletics championships was show live on national television station GTV Sports +, given the event wide leverage across the world.
Athletics was the winner in the end as Legon 2020 left a lasting legacy for the games.