Support athletes, medal-haul campaign
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IT is now evident that Alphonce Simbu’s success in Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro last year has been more than rewarding to Tanzania.

His inspirational 5th place in the World’s biggest sporting events has begun to yield fruits as his disciples continue to emerge and sparkle in the world class events. In the beginning it looked as if Simbu would be alone in a campaign to revive athletics, focusing much on long distance races, which Tanzania excelled in the past four decades.

Just a few days ago, two athletes, Stephen Huche who finished runner-up in the Saint Michel Marathon of France and Gabriel Geay, who won the Bolder Boulder race in the US, confirmed the country’s seriousness in reviving athletics.

The inspirational performance of the two athletes came just a month after another Tanzanian; Emanuel Giniki won Kunming Marathon of China. Adding a dimension to the success was Huche’s good time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 26 seconds, which qualified him for the World Athletics Championship to be held in August in London.

Huche’s time shattered the Olympic qualifying mark of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 00 seconds by almost 4 minutes. The runner has joined Alphonce Felix Simbu, Said Makula, Fabian Joseph and Jaffer Ngimba, who had already booked their ticket for the London event.

It’s motivating to have four athletes now capable of promising medals, but still, the number is too small compared to the overwhelmingly big number of world-class runners Kenya or Ethiopia produces.

As we have seen most of the runners excel in long distance races and marathons, we would suggest the athletics revival campaign should groom sprinters and middle distance runners as well.

We seriously urge athletics stakeholders to motivate the revival of the two disciplines since they can help us win medals like in the past when Clever Kamanya won bronze in 400m and later Filbert Bayi won the country’s first gold in Commonwealth Games.

Samuel Mwera and Lwiza John won the country’s last medals in 800m discipline in 2005. We laud all those who made the recent achievement as we again insist all Tanzania to support the medal-haul campaign.

The glorious days of athletics are not far away, but to achieve the goal, combined efforts are urgently needed to make medal-haul dream a reality.

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