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Track & Field News of Friday, 20 August 2004

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ATHENS'04: Vida Anim eliminated

Ghana?s medal hopes in athletics yesterday suffered a serious jolt when sprints queen Vida Anim failed to qualify for the quarter-final stage of the women?s 100 metres, after she pulled out of the second round heats as a result of a thigh injury she sustained.

Team captain, Andrew Owusu failed to qualify for the final of the men?s triple jump as he finished a disappointing 10th with a leap of 16.64 metres. Only the first seven jumpers of Owusu?s group leapt their way into today?s final showdown. Vida Anim, who had earlier won her first heat in a new national record time of 11.14 seconds, was striding among the leading pack when she pulled a muscle and eventually limped off the tracks. The previous national record of 11.18 seconds stood in the name of US-based Vida Nsiah

Until her unfortunate fate, the young sprinter and veteran Merlene Ottey of Slovenia, had run the second fastest time of the day, just behind Bulgaria's Yuliya Nesterenko who won her first race in 10.94 seconds.

The World and Olympic records of 10. 49 seconds and 10. 62 seconds respectively set on July 16, 1988 in Indianapolis, USA, and September 24 at the Seoul Olympics, both stand in the name of the late Florence Griffith-Joyner (Flo-Jo) of the United States.At the time of going to press, Ghana?s track and field officials were working around the clock to bring Vida Anim to fitness to enable her compete in the women?s 200 metres event.

Ghana?s 800 metres hopeful Akosua Serwaa failed to progress in the two-lap race after finishing a disappointing fifth in a time of 2.03.96 minutes. Heptathlete, Margaret Simpson, however rekindled Ghana?s hopes of an Olympic medal as she put up outstanding performances in the seven-discipline event.

Ghana?s superwoman of athletics, at the time of going to press, had gathered 3617 points in intermediate results after competing in four events. She won her 100 metres hurdles heats in 13.56 seconds, again took the first position in her 200-metre heats in 24.62 seconds, finished sixth in the hurdles event after clearing 1.79 metres, placed 10th in the shot putt with a throw of 12.41 metres.

This afternoon Simpson will push hard to maximise her points build-up in her favourite javelin and later in the 800-metre race ? her weakest event.With challengers Naide Gomes of Portugal (3766), Austra Skujyte of Lithuania (3760 pts), German Sonja Kesselschlaeger (3691), Briton Denise Lewis (3688), and Erty Karin of Germany (3641), all putting up a stiff challenge for honours, Simpson will have to work even harder today to guarantee for herself at least a bronze medal.

The heptathlon world record of 7291 set at the Seoul Olympics on September 24, 1988, and the Olympics records set on the same day and venue stand in the name of the great Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the United States. The world's best record set in Adelaide, Australia, on January 26, 1985, stands in the name of Australian Christine Stanton.Today, Aziz Zakaria, Eric Nkansah and Leo Myles-Mills will take part in the heats of the men's 100 metres.