High flying Elizabeth Dadzie
Just two months into their stay in the USA, Ghana’s legion of junior athletes have clinched three gold medals on the first day of the ongoing US Junior College National Championships in New York.
Long jump sensation Elizabeth Dadzie stunned US college athletics observers with a dramatic win in the Women's Pentathlon after sub-par performances in the first 2 events of the five–event pentathlon.
After sub-par performances in the hurdles and high jump, probably due to nerves in her maiden national junior college championship in the US, an average performance of 10.53m in the shot put (3rd event) moved her into 6th place before she roared to the lead with a massive long jump (4th event) of 6.23 meters.
Her jump of 6.23m is a lifetime best and the furthest jump by a Ghanaian since 2011 (that mark also puts her at the top of the Africa indoor rankings in 2014). She capped off the pentathlon with a 2:30.68 in the 800m run.
Two hours after her splendid performance in the six-hour, five-event ordeal, Dadzie returned to the field to pick up silver in the individual long jump event by the narrowest of margins; she missed the title by 2 centimetres (three-quarters of an inch).
Earlier in the day, during the pentathlon, she had won the pentathlon-long jump in 6.23 meters.
Despite the competition being indoors, her new personal best of 6.23m would have been enough to win a bronze medal at the 2012 Senior African Championships.
Her Ghanaian compatriot, Lydia Mato, may have topped her performance by blitzing two quality fields, that each included three Kenyans, to win gold in both the women’s 3000m and 5000m races.
Lydia Mato with coach
Two weeks ago, Mato won 3 events and distinguished Awards at NJCAA Region VI Championships.
Meanwhile, the athletes from Ghana go into day 2 of the championship with other national athletes having qualified for the finals in their events--Janet Amponsah will be in the 60m and 200m finals, and enters the 200m final with the fastest time from last night; Agnes Abu will be in the 1000m and 800m, and also enters the 800m final with yesterday’s fastest time;Adelaide Nkrumah and Stephanie Aidoo will be in the 600m and 400m finals respectively, while Samson Azumah Laari features in both the 800m and 1000m finals.
Daniel Gyasi will also be in the men’s 400m and the 4x400m relay. After her two gold medals in the longer events, Lydia “Ataa Afia” Mato enters the one mile final with the fastest time.
Elizabeth Dadzie and Mary Quayson will round out the fields as they both appear in the the high jump and triple jump respectively. The finals are on Saturday, 8th March, 2014.
Thus, Elizabeth Dadzie becomes the first Ghanaian to win Gold in the multi-events at the US Junior Colleges National Athletics Championship.
Remarkably, she has managed to do so as a first year student (freshman) and jumped far enough to contend for a medal in the long jump at the 2014 Senior African Championships.
It must be noted that last year John Ampomah won the title in the javelin, while Atsu Nyamadi won bronze in the men’s multi-event.
It will be recalled that the Ghana Athletics Association through its Education Trust Fund, facilitated and helped secured academic scholarships for these athletes in USA this past January.
The Ghana Athletics Association’s (GAA) Education Trust Fund was set up last year to help under-privileged and talented athletes achieve both academic and sports excellence.