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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Isaac Ntiamoah - Sprinters need to improve to justify funding

Isaac Ntiamoah - Sprinters need to improve to justify funding

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-12/sprinters-out-to-prove-themselves/4007600?section=sport

Sprinters out to prove themselves
By Luke Pentony
ABC News
May 12, 2012


Olympic relay hopeful Isaac Ntiamoah says improved performances on the track will dictate whether Australian sprinters gain increased financial support.

Australia may not have a male or female representative compete in the 100 and 200 metres at the London Olympics, with Sally Pearson the only athlete to have achieved an A qualifier in the sprints.

But Pearson, as world champion, will only compete in the 100m hurdles.

Critics have levelled blame at Athletics Australia's (AA) decision to focus its high performance plan on technical events in the four-year cycle leading up to the London Games.

Pole vault, the greater jumps and the walks are among those events AA has poured much of its limited funds towards in its hope to win six medals in London.

AA has argued that its targeted events, as part of the high performance plan, give Australia the best chances of medals and top eight finishes at the major meets.

The aforementioned three have provided podium finishes in the two world championships held since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Steve Hooker won gold in the pole vault at the the 2009 world titles in Berlin, while Mitchell Watt claimed bronze in the long jump in the German capital and two years later collected silver in Daegu.

Jared Tallent was also a medallist (bronze) in the 50km walk in Daegu with compatriot Luke Adams finishing fifth.

AA high performance manager Eric Hollingsworth has defended the focus on technical events.

He told ABC's 7.30 program in February that Jamaica and United States have raised the bar in the sprints and Australia's athletes "haven't come up to that line".

Ntiamoah, who last week competed at meets in Japan as AA bids to qualify a men's 4x100m relay squad, says he understands sprinters will have access to increased funding if they can produce the goods in competition.

"They (AA) want us to perform at our best, they don't want to put in funds if we are not going to perform, which is fair enough," he told Grandstand.

"So, as soon as the athletes in the sprints start to get better there will definitely be more funding available."

The articulate Ntiamoah, who has a personal best of 10.35 in the 100m, says sprinters have a chance through relays to gain the international experience that can be beneficial towards their individual hopes.

"When you make the relay team you're exposed to a lot more and you really get to see how the competition is and it just makes you hungry," he said.

"When you go back to Australia it just makes you want to train harder and achieve that individual spot."

Ntiamoah ran the back straight as part of Australia's 4x100m line-up in two encouraging results in Shizuoka and Kawasaki last week.

The quartet of Ntiamoah, Anthony Alozie, Andrew McCabe and Tim Leathart ran 38.84 to finish third at the Shizuoka International meet on May 3, the display improving Australia's aggregate two-time performance to 77.53 seconds, which also includes the 38.69 run at last year's world championships.

This aggregate had Australia 11th on the most recent IAAF rankings issued, with the top 16 to compete at the Olympics.

Ntiamoah, McCabe and Leathart then teamed up with national champion Joshua Ross last Sunday to run 39.00 in winning at the Golden Grand Prix in Kawasaki, which doubled as an IAAF World Challenge meet.

Although Australia is yet to confirm its berth for London, the 29-year-old Ntiamoah expects to be competing at what would be his first Olympics.

"I'm confident we won't get knocked out, I think we will stay in the top 16," he said.

"So everyone is looking forward to going to London and to compete there it just shows we are competitive and we can make the top eight."

Ntiamoah says there is much room for improvement in regard to baton changes, admitting they were not "perfect" during the Japanese campaign.

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