400-metre runner Gad Owusu stole the show at the first leg of the Ghana Athletics Association's National Circuit Championships with a life time best 46.76(PB) to win the 400m final at the Essipong Stadium last Saturday.The performance by the one lap specialist from the University of Education Winneba (UEW) was an improvement over the 46.83s he clocked when he won the Ghana University Sports Association's athletics 400m final at Legon in January.
Gad run a balanced race in the first 300m and pulled clear of the rest of the field to continue his rich vein of form ahead of his UEW teammate Prince Charles Frimpong who also crossed the finish line in 47.05(SB) while UCC's Abdul Razak came third with 47.31.
The Championships received a timely $12,000 sponsorship boost from the Ghana Maritime Authority prior to the event, the GAA announced.
Hundreds of athletes from the regions, security services, universities and the Ghana Education Services assembled at Sekondi to step up preparations towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and other international championships this year.
The one-day event witnessed some improved performances, dramatic finishes and some great come backs from the sports best performers while some athletes especially from second cycle institutions punched above their weights to compete with their seniors from higher institutions of learning.
Among some of the notable highlights of the day, sprinter Sarfo Ansah made a strong come back to clinch the 100m final in time of 10.49s.
Sarfo held his nerves to fend off stiff competition from Barnabas Aggerh 10.51s and Fuseini Ibrahim 10.53s, who had shown early form with a personal best 10.53s(PB) in the heats.
Elsewhere, sprinter Kate Agyemang showed great form to stop the clock at 23.92s to win the women’s 200m race. Kate's teammate from the University for Development studies, Rafiatu Nuhu, came second in a time of 24.08s while Ashanti region's Anita Afrifa followed in third place with 24.57s.
In one of the most dramatic scenes at the Circuit, reigning Ghana University Sports Association 800m champion Charles Baah had to dig deep into his reserves to produce a last minute effort to snatch first place from St. Augustine’s teenage sensation Sadiq Aloo in the 1500m final.
Baah, a student of UEW, came first in a time of 3:56.23, followed by Sadiq in 3:56.55 while University of Cape Coast’s Daniel Abotsi Gawuga took third place in 3:58.02.
Ghana Armed Forces's Barnabas Dompey won a thrilling contest with his rival Eric Annobil to claim first place in the 110m hurdles final a time of 14.50s. Annobil was second best with 14.70s.
Upset in 800m Women final
Ashanti region's Grace Kumbattu upstaged the experienced Sakat Lariba to claim a memorable first place and a personal best 2:10.99(PB) in the women's 800m final.
Grace, a student of the St. Louis Senior High School, kept pace with the long distance specialist in the first lap and 300m, before kicking in the final 100m to stake her claim.
Sakat settled for second place with a 2:13.41 clocking while Hilda Mary Bayor of the Northern region came third with 2:17.23.
Para stars spice up circuit
In a show of determination and class, three-times Olympian Raphael Botyso Nkegbe and a group of para athletes and wheelchair specialist put on a show for the spectators at the stadium.
Raphael, who has qualified to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, claimed a hat trick of wins in the100m, 200m and 400m finals.
He won the 100m in a time of15.01s, followed by his protégés Maclean Atsu Dzidzienyo in 17.33s, Yakubu Abukari in 17.66 and Ayishetu Seidu in 19.50.
In the para men's 100m final, Western Region's Emmanuel Kwaku Acquah edged Samson Kofi to first place with a 12. 68s clocking. Kofi Samson took second in 12.70s while Bernard Doudo came third 12.79s. There were further exhibitions in the para javelin throw event and para 400m events.
In a closing address to athletes and officials, a Vice President of the GAA Mr. Ababu Afielek expressed his appreciation to the Ghana Maritime Authority for sponsoring the circuit championships, and urged the athletes to continue to work hard as the GAA is committed to organising more competitions this year to develop the sport.
The next leg of the Circuit will be held in Tamale on 4th April and it will be preceded by the GAA’s Open Championships on 21st March in Kumasi.