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28.03.2006 Sports News

Ghana Blunders Again In Relay

By Graphic
Ghana Blunders Again In Relay

Ghana completed her most successful Commonwealth Games campaigns since 1970 with Madjeti Fetrie and Ignatius Gaisah putting up golden performances while heavyweight, Awusone Yekeni, won bronze in boxing, but the tracks events provided more nightmare than the initial dreams of sprints glory.

That Aziz Zakari, one of the world's elite male sprinters, failed to win a medal was no news, having flattered only to deceive in past major competitions. The men's 4x100 relays, regarded as one of Ghana's strongest claims to a medal, provided an anticlimax to Ghana's campaign as they messed up the final and failed to finish the race last Friday.

Having posted very impressive times in the qualifying rounds, the two teams looked credible contenders for medals until an old demon came back to haunt them as a result of botched baton changes in the finals.

While the men's quartet of Leo Myles-Mills, Eric Nkansah, US-based Seth Amoo and Zakari failed to replicate the picture-perfect baton changing that won them gold at the 2003 All Africa Games in Abuja, the women's team of Gifty Addy, Elizabeth Amolofo, Mariama Salifu and Vida Anim, running in lane six, had the misfortune of dropping the baton and expectedly failing to finish the race.

Earlier the men's quartet had qualified in a time of 39.03 seconds — the fourth fastest time after eventual gold medallist, Jamaica, Australia and Canada.

Embarrassing as last Saturday's incidents were, it brought to the fore a chronic ailment afflicting Ghana's men's quartet at major events for the last decade. The team has yet to perfect the art and their chances have often been blighted by a litany of errors.

Ghana experienced a similar embarrassment of the highest proportion 10 years ago when the men's quartet was disqualified in the men's 4x100 metres final at the Atlanta '96 Olympic Games, culminating in the disciplinary action against then national chief athletics coach, Rose Hart and her eventual exit from the sport.

Two years later at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Ghana's quartet that included Myles-Mills and Zakari was again disqualified in the final of the sprints relay after finishing fourth in the semi-finals in a time of 39.28 seconds.

At the Sydney Olympics six years ago, the Ghanaian team messed up the change in baton in the first round heats and subsequently failed to finish the race.

At the last Commonwealth Games in Manchester Ghana failed to raise a team in the sprints relay, a discipline that in Ghana's glorious past won Ghana a gold (Kingston '66 Games) and three silver medals (1962, 1970 and 1974 Games).