COMMONWEALTH Games record holder, Filbert Bayi has warned athletes from other nations to be on their guard ahead of next year’s event in Gold Coast, Australia, saying Tanzania will go all out to top the medal charts.
Bayi, who is the Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC) Secretary General, said this during a reception at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in Dar es Salaam on Monday, organised to celebrate the Commonwealth Queen’s Baton visiting Tanzania.
“Athletes who are in track right now and those who are training for the Commonwealth Games are raring to go. With the minister responsible for sports right here with us, I can precisely promise we will go for medals and reclaim our rightful position in the Games. “I can assure you that our athletes are talented and ready for the Games...let athletes from other nations watch out. Usually it is not easy for me to promise but for this one, I promise.
Bayi, who hold 1,500 metres unbeaten record in 1974 Christchurch, New Zealand Games, thanked the British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Sarah Cooke for her support and coordination, which enabled Tanzania to successfully host the Queen’s baton relay for three days.
“Thank you for what you have done to us, you have been with us since the baton arrived in Tanzania. It felt good to receive and host the baton, which carries a message from the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II,” Bayi said.
Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports Harrison Mwakyembe, who was a chief guest at the event, said Tanzanians are delighted to host the baton for the 6th time now in the history of this tradition.
Minister Mwakyembe said he sees the opportunity for Tanzania to revive its past glory in the Commonwealth Games by winning big at the 21st event.
“When I see my brother Bayi (Filbert), holder of the Games’ record for the past 43 years, I see the opportunity for my ministry to use this historical relay to revive our past glory in the Commonwealth Games, with the view to inspiring our young generation of athletes to do better in next year’s Games. “If we manage then, to set a record that remain unbeaten today, why not now. This is why the TOC Vice- President (Henry Tandau) was saying, we will do wonders in Australia next year,” he said.
He extended his gratitude to the British High Commissioner to Tanzania and the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, various sports association leaders, local athletes and the public for supporting the relay.
“When I was holding this very special baton at the National Stadium on Saturday, I felt like I was holding the rich diversity of the Commonwealth, which to all member countries, it is a strong foundation for enlarged and increased interactions not only in sports but also in tourism, trade, education and many other spheres. Therefore, as active members of Commonwealth Games, we Tanzanians are very delighted to host this baton,” he said.
On her side, British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Cooke expressed her high hopes that the Tanzanian team to the Games will achieve huge success. “I’m looking forward to see medals comeback to Tanzania after the Gold Coast Games,” she said, while also expressing her passion and enthusiasm about the Commonwealth Games and feelings that legends like Filbert Bayi bring to the Games.
“I’m delighted to be joined by legend Bayi, still a Commonwealth record holder ...Tanzanians are very proud of your achievement... ‘Hongera Sana’,” she told the gathering.
“Promising star Alphonce Simbu, would have been with us here today but he is currently preparing for London Marathon, which will happen on April 23rd, hope everyone in Tanzania will be cheering him on as part of his preparations for the Commonwealth Games next year,” she said.
Gidamis Shahanga, the only Tanzanian to win two gold medals in Club Games, Filbert Bayi whose 1500m record has remained unbroken for 43 years.. Tanzania has won 21 total medals from 1966 to the last events in 2010, but 12 of them came from Games held in Down Under.
According to the record Tanzanian athletes won seven medals in Australian soil in the events held there in 1982 and 2006. But, according to Shahanga, 1982 was the banner year in athletics. He said Tanzania won five medals in the Club Games held in Brisbane.