The forgotten Mother of Track and Field – ALICE YEYE ANNUM, The Baby Jet

This is a brief story of one of the most extraordinary women of Ghana – Alice Annum, the Baby Jet. You probably don’t know her. This is Ghana for you, a country of heroes without recognition.

The Queen of Track and Field from 1965 to 1975. She won gold in every 100m, 200m and long Jump on this continent. She’s the he 1st African woman to ever win a medal in 100m & 200m at a Commonwealth Games. The 1st African woman to reach the finals of an Olympic Games in 100m & 200m.

At the age of 15 she represented Ghana at the Tokyo Olympic Games in Long Jump. The youngest from Africa and one of the youngest in the world ever. It is said that she won the 100m at the National Sports Festival in 1964 in such a dazzling manner that Kwame Nkrumah gave her a standing ovation.

At the age of 16, she won her 1st gold medal at the All Africa Games in Brazzaville in 1965. She won double silver at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1970 and bronze 4yrs later in Christchurch. She placed 7th at the Munich Olympic Games 200m with her best time of 22.89s and was 6th in 100m in the Olympic Games – becoming the 1st African to reach both finals in the same Games.

File photo of Alice Annum

Her 200m record was broken only recently – in April 2018 by Janet Amponsah. Her best in the 100m 11.1s is yet to be broken.

Click here to read more by Dr. Amu Darko

For me, the most memorable thing about Baby Jet was the 1973 All Africa Games which she won gold in both 100m and 200m. I remember this victory so well. It was in January, and I was in my 1st vacation as a class 1 pupil. I remember Baby Jet waving to Osu as she rode in the open top van on our street to meet Acheampong in the Castle. The queen from Osu, is now the sprint QUEEN of the whole of Africa. Osu goes, Ghana goes. There was daily ‘’jama’’ from her house near the Osu market. Osu never slept.

This is what the President of Ghana’s Olympic Committee haa said about Mama Alice:

President of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) Ben Nunoo Mensah has hailed former Ghanaian sprint champion, Alice Annum for her patriotism and zeal in running to become the best during her hay days.

He said “Alice Annum deserves much from Ghanaians and it would be befitting if one of the new stadia or stands being built to be named after her.”

I wonder why Mama Alice was bypassed in the naming of the Accra Sports Stadium. Who deserves that honour more than her? She does not need any new stadium. No equivocation here: the Accra Sports stadium will be named after Baby Jet. She is the best, and the stadium is on her land. Period!

You struck so many 1st for Ghana and Africa, but when know-little, do-little politicians decided to re-write our history, they left you out in that crazy curriculum but included Elizabeth Ohene for being the 1st female Editor of a newspaper. How can that be? Aunt Lizzy no offence, but do you think this is fair?

The know-little, do-little politicians may forget you, but the people of Osu, Ga, Ghana and
Africa will never forget you.

Written by Dr. Amu Darko | President, ARM

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