Ghana’s Agnes Abu (800m) and Sampson Laari (1 Mile) have qualified for the 2017 NCAA D1 Indoor Championships in the USA.
Abu is the first Ghanaian female athlete in history to qualify for the big dance in a middle or long distance event. The last Ghanaian female athlete to make it to the big dance was sprinter Flings Owusu-Agyapong in the 60m in 2012.
“Mighty” Sampson Laari Continues to Rewrite Ghana’s Middle Distance Records
Bravo Sampson Azumah Laari!!! “Mighty” Sampson chose Sunday afternoon and Boston, Massachusetts (USA) on Sunday February 26th to do something no Ghanaian had ever done before: run a sub-4 minute mile!
This was a feat that hadn’t even been accomplished outdoors by any Ghanaian, let alone on the short track of an indoor arena where sharper bends compromise speed and require one to run eight laps to complete the mile (1600 meters).
As well, no West-African runner has ever ran a sub 4-minute mile indoors. But, Laari crashed right through that magic, middle distance barrier in 3 minutes, 58.75 seconds to set yet another national record.
In the short span of time of a year, Laari has taken ownership of 4 national records; 2 indoor and 2 outdoor. Sampson holds the indoor mile and 3000m records, as well as the outdoor 1500m and 5000m ones. He has eclipsed these records multiple times during this period.
A few minutes removed, his female compatriot Agnes Abu came, yet again, ever so closer to the national indoor 800m record that she has been flirting with for the last few months. This time, she missed it by a minuscule 0.02 seconds, running 2 minutes 4.63 seconds; note that this was neither 2 seconds nor two-tenths of a second off the record, but two-hundredths of one second! Even blinking your eyes once takes longer than that.
With her indoor season over, that is a record that she will have to wait 10 months to get another chance at. But, it look as if the outdoor season portends such promise for Ghanaian middle-distance running; who would have ever thought Ghana held such promise among its middle distance cadre.
On the sprint front, Rio Olympians Janet Amponsah and Gemma Acheampong completed a one-two finish for Ghana in the 200m final at the same Boston competition. Amponsah won the indoor one-lap race in 23.64 seconds, with Acheampong following in second in a new personal best of 24.15s. Elsewhere, in New York City, Rio Olympian Akua Obeng-Akrofi returned a seasonal best time of 24.13s in the 200 meters, on top of winning the Ivy League Indoor Championship in the 400 meters in 54.10s. And back in Boston, Solomon Afful led the men’s sprint charge placing 3rd in the 200 meters in 21.21s.
At home in Ghana, athletes are continuing their recovery from the Tamale Circuit and preparing for the next National Circuit Championship in Accra on March 18th. In the interim, the Past Athletes Association of Ghana (PAAG) is proposing to co-host, with GAA, an Open Championship on March 11th.