By Gary Tim
New York (SMS) — It’s been almost a half decade since she raced indoor but Guyana’s superstar athlete Aliann Pompey wasted little time this season in making her come back count.
The svelte quarter-miler has, again, rewritten the national record books, and in the process, emblazoned her name onto the international spotlight with a scintillating 400m run.
Last Saturday, Pompey made up for her long absence on the undercover circuit by churning out a world leading 51.85s for the two-lapper at the New Balance Games in New York’s Amory Track & Field Center – touted as one of the fastest indoor tracks.
The feat shattered her Guyana record for the event (52.17s set in 2003), and now Pompey – whose initials, incidentally spells the word ATOP – is doing just that – sitting atop the world list for the event.
Getting the season’s top time got Pompey a deservingly adorning ‘front page’ appearance on the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) website – www.iaaf.org – titled
“Pompey cruises to 51.85 in New York”.
The January 25th story states: “Aliann Pompey cruised to a 51.85 sec victory in the 400m, an early season world leader, at the 14th New Balance Games at the New York’s Armory’s Track & Field Center on Saturday (24).
The three-time Olympian from Guyana torched the field on her home turf, as she trains at the Armory with former Irish sprint champion, Joe Ryan from Manhattan College.
A former NCAA indoor champion, the 30-year-old physical trainer was an Olympic semi-finalist in the 400m in Beijing last year.
Pompey told the Armory’s Chris Hunt, “I haven’t run indoor in five years. I was wondering if I could do that. I felt like I could (run a personal best) today.” And, she certainly didn’t leave much doubt. At the bell she was almost 30 metres ahead of her opponents and showed little sign of fatigue for the final circling to the tape. Her distant bridesmaids were Sophia Smellie (54.94s), Nicole Dumpson (55.01s) and Alyssa Aiken (57.68s).
With a few early slugs in the barrel during this winter, Pompey was on target to hit her mark. The Pisces-born athlete easily swam through all her competitions, including a decisive win in Saskatoon, Canada against a star-studded field, and a smart win in the seldom-contested 500m at New York’s Gotham Cup, two weeks ago. There, she posted a runaway 1:09.37 for the win, and a positive signal for a Millrose Games appearance at 600y, this month. She had said that really gave her confidence that for the performance.
Her 53.48s in the Canadian meet (Knights of Columbus Indoor Games) relegated to second place, the defending champion and 2002 African 200m and 400m champion Kaltouma Nadjina of Chad (53.68s). It was the first of the season for the three-time Olympian who is still seeking a sponsor; and part of her decision to do the indoors comes from how well she’s training with her long-time coach.
A report from the meet states that Pompey sees the indoor circuit as important to make the connections with meet promoters and to nail a ‘shoe contract’.
She lost her funding after being injured and was working full-time during her Olympic year, which may have cost her her goal of making the final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Pompey had got to the semi-finals and finished an eye-opening 11th (overall) in the 400m in a tough field of 50.
Coincidentally Pompey’s record run at the Armory comes at a time when the famed track facility is celebrating its centennial with a daily countdown of its 100 greatest moments. Listed at #79, the Guyanese star is honoured for running her country’s previous national 400m record there on February 28, 2003.
The December 23rd honour plate on ArmoryTrack.com reads: Aliann Pompey sets the Guyanese national indoor record for 400 meters, running 52.17 at the NYU FastTrack meet. A year later she set the outdoor record of 50.93, a time she equaled in the Olympic semifinals in Beijing in 2008.
Pompey had an extraordinary record, competing in 3 Olympics and 7 World Championships for Guyana. She won the NCAA indoor championship in 2000 for Manhattan College and won the Commonwealth Games 400 in 2002. In January 2006 she ran 1:09.55 for 500 meters, setting an Armory record that still stands.