Pompey on track for Commonwealth Games defence
Thursday, February 9th 2006
Guyana’s Aliann Pompey is on track for a successful defence of her 400 metres title at next month’s Common-wealth Games in Australia.
Pompey, the national 200m and 400m record holder, put on a super- fluid display of charged running dominating her race from the gun to the tape to return a season-best 52.81s in winning the two-flight Women’s 400m Open last weekend in the US.
Pompey, turned the tables on Jamaican World and Olympic 4x400m medalist Ronetta Smith who had defeated her on the same track in January condemning Smith to second place in a time of 53.16s.
When all the times were considered in the two flights, some of Jamaica’s top quarter-milers took four of the other six positions
Pompey has expressed a desire to drop three seconds over three months going into the 2006 Commonwealth 400m and is right on track.
She has shed a little over a second so far in almost one month, and will be striding to not only reach her goal, but also to derail her opponents in competitions leading up to the Melbourne Games in March.
But it was not Pompey alone as other Guyanese-based athletes as if to atone for the fact that their discipline didn’t get among the top choices at last Friday’s National Sport Awards selection process signalled their intention to be back in the sums soon with a string of ‘wins and tins’ over the weekend.
They either resoundingly won their events (Like Pompey) or put their names (and Guyana’s) on the top-list slate of the scoreboards, inscribing another glorious weekend of achievements for the nation’s track and field stars in the US.
Junior sprinter Anna-Lisa Austin, international quarter- miler Marian Burnett and collegiate jumps-standout Michelle Vaughn sent high optimism for better recognition for track and field the next time around with their performances.
Beginning on Friday night at the prestigious 99th Millrose Games, Austin’s mid-stretch burst of power seemed to land her the title of
Fastest High School Girl in New York', before she was marginally pipped’ by her teammate by 1/100th of a second.
Driving out of the blocks, the juniors in the six-field 60m event had their parents, school officials and other supporters screaming their names for a win.
When it was all over, Austin (7.73s) had to consult the jumbotron scoreboard to believe she had really lost to her Middle College colleague Deiddra Rogers (7.72s).
It was, nevertheless, satisfaction for the young Guyanese sprinter to share the spotlight this year, after the horror of being pulled from the 2005 event because of a false start.
She and Rogers walloped the field leaving the other places to Latoya Edwards (7.85s); Laquashia Hall (8.05s); Janique James (8.12s) and Altagracia Vasquez (8.13s).
An hour later, the almost 14,000 crowd at New York’s world famous Madison Square Garden saw her senior compatriot Burnett hit the tracks for the Women’s International 800m event.
With a quick start to avoid bumping trouble on the narrow 145m oval, Burnett controlled the opening salvo of the race until being twice challenged then driving back to score another ‘GT’ silver placing in 2:07.62s. Her former Essex County College teammate, Jamaican national champion and record holder Kenia Sinclair kicked into a sustained overdrive to take the crown in 2:05.62s.
They were followed by Americans, NCAA multiple- medalist Christin Wurth (2:08.22s) and Jen Toomey (2:08.26s), the US Indoor 800m and mile champion.
The other positions were taken by Ethiopia’s national champion and record holder, Meskerem Legesse (2:10. 43s); Frances Santin of the US (2:11.46s) and Trinidad and Tobago’s champion and record holder Melissa DeLeon.
Both Burnett and Austin shared pride with other Guyanese as they watched their feats internationally televised on US sport network, ESPN2.
The next day, Burnett turned up at New York’s Armory Track Centre for the Women’s Open 800m in the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. Her blistering pacesetting time of 1:31.26s up to the 600m mark helped set up a US season-leading win for Santin in 2:03.43s. Santin’s time is also the fastest in America for this year, beating out the 2:04.55 done by Burnett two weeks before. Second was Burnett’s training partner, Grenadian Neisha Bernard-Thomas, a CAC and NCAA champion who holds her country’s national records.
On Sunday, the final day of the weekend, national jumps champion Vaughn popped the champagne on the Guyanese women’s three-day string of accomplishments, with an emphatic victory at the Pepsi Invitational in Gainesville, Florida.
The 2005 double NJCAA Women’s Field Athlete of the meet awardee hit a provisional NCAA Div.I qualification with a 13.18m (43’03") in the Women’s Triple Jump, even though she fouled and passed on two of her six jumps.
She finished ahead of her second-placed rival Nicole Whitman (13.05m/42’09.74") by almost a foot.
Vaughn doesn’t need this mark to contest the collegiate Indoor Championships in March, since she got an automatic qualification (13.33m) two weeks ago to take her to number eight on the Dandy Dozen rankings list. She also has a provisional mark for the long jump.
Vaughn and Burnett should be in the same arena this weekend to contest the two-day Powered by Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Vaughn will jump for her South Carolina-based college, Auburn University, while Burnett is in the start list for the Elite Women’s 800m.
Burnett and Pompey have improved to #24 (800m) and #36 (400m), respectively on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) world ranking lists last updated February sixth with competitions up to January 30. Correspond-ingly, they had started the year listed at #25 and #48.