Track & Field News of Friday, 15 December 2006

Source: Maurice Quansah (Graphic)

Vida, Gaisah Make Huge Jumps In World Rankings

Ghanaian long jump ace, Ignatius Gaisah, and sprints queen, Vida Anim, made significant gains in the International Association of Athletics Federation?s (IAAF) year-ending rankings released by the world body last week.

It has been an outstanding year for Ghana athletics, with both Gaisah and Anim achieving significant international glories as world indoor champion, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and African champion, among others.

These success stories found proper meaning in the ranking of the world's elite track and field stars as captured by the sport's world governing body, IAAF, through the award of points.

Gaisah's outstanding season saw him achieve the highest ranking of his career as the second best long jumper in the world behind his biggest rival, Irving Saladino, of Panama.

The Rotterdam-based Ghanaian, who finished 2005 as the third-ranked long jumper, accumulated 1355 points, just 38 points short of the Panamanian's total score for his performances this season.

He finished in a respectable 36th position overall among the world's top 100 male athletes, representing athletes that compete in every track and field event.

Gaisah achieved his jump to the second rung of the IAAF ladder on the back of a string of successes, chiefly his victory over Saladino to win the IAAF World Indoor Championship in Moscow last March, followed by victories at the Gaz de France meet at St Denis in Paris, the Helsinki GE Money Grand Prix and the African Championship in Bambous, Mauritius.

His gold medal-winning feat at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne was, however, not factored into the year-rending rankings, as it was not an IAAF-sanctioned event.

In the year under review, the three-time SWAG premier sports personality set a new African indoor record of 8.30m at the Moscow World Championship and improved his personal best and national outdoor record to 8.43m in Rome last July.

Anim also achieved the highest position of her career as she finished in 12th place in the women's 100m ranking, 145 points behind Sherone Simpson of the United States who finished as world No. 1 with an accumulated score of 1384 points, and overall 99th in the top 100.

She also jumped into 10th position in the women's 200m rankings, with American Sanya Richards sitting pretty at the top.

Ghana's premier female sprinter was a dominant force on the international circuit, particularly the latter part of the year where she won the sprints double and a winning performance in the 4x100m relay at the Bambous African Championship.

She also placed third in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m while representing Africa at the IAAF Athletics World Cup in Athens last September.

In the year that the sport's world governing body handed sprints king Aziz Zakari a two-year worldwide ban and had all his results from April 29 expunged from the books, for testing positive for the banned anabolic drug, Stanozolol, no Ghanaian was represented in the top 100 of the men's 100 metres ranking.

Significantly, though, 23-year-old Seth Amoo made it to the 41st position in the men's 200m ratings, in a season that the US-based sprinter won the Bratislava Slovak Gold meet and placed second in the GeneveAtletica meet in Geneva, Switzerland, running a personal best of 20.55 seconds.

After taking a year off athletics to start a family, heptathlon queen, Margaret Simpson, was not represented in the IAAF ranking. Last year she finished in third position in the seven-event competition.