Why tribute to Athletics Tanzania still in order


AFTER sending eight athletes to compete in the just ended 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, UK and winning one bronze medal, Athletics Tanzania (AT) have now appealed for more financial support from public, private and general public.

And that is what any sporting organisation worth its name ought to do, firstly, get into business, secondly, produce results and lastly but not least, seek assistance. The beauty of going through the foregoing steps is that after producing results of sort, it is time to tell your would be supporters that, “this is what I have been able to produce, without any assistance.

Now help me to do better than what I have done.” When I paid glowing tribute both to Alphonce Simbu and AT in one of my last columns, one of the local Kiswahili daily carried a headline which read; Don’t seek praise from what you have not contributed.

What the local Kiswahili daily meant was that Simbu’s success was a result of his own efforts; that it was wrong for anyone to associ ate Simbu’s success with those who had not contributed. But the good thing about sports, unlike other issues, is that whatever one says or does not, it does not take long to get the truth.

And that is exactly what it happened. It did not long to get response from the headline of the Kiswahili daily. Speaking at a function organized by his employers, the National Service, mid this week, Simbu paid glowing tribute to the AT and his employers for helping him to win the medal.

He said it is very difficult for one to train in long distance alone; “you need people around to egg you on,” said Simbu. The army man said the young athletes he had been provided to run with and mentor them, had helped him to train and prepare well for the London World athletics meeting.

In a nutshell, what Simbu meant when he said what he said, is that much as individuality is what finally matters in athletics competitions. But team work during training for any athletic event is extremely important.

My praise on AT for the team they had assembled and dispatched to London was not on Simbu per se, but also for the AT’s decision to assemble those four young men for the marathon event. As it later turned out; the four or so young men who competed in the marathon event with Simbu finished the race with the last man finishing 38th in the global marathon event.

The implication of the London marathon is that, as far as this event is concerned, Tanzania presently holds from number 3 to 38 in the world. And this is certainly not a mean achievement, especially for a country that has for almost three decades had its athletes returning home from international athletics championships empty handed.

This now brings me to the theme of this column today, namely, AT’s appeal for assistance in their quest to bring more medals to Tanzania. Those who are in the know in athletics and in particular, middle and long distance, would tell you that anyone who finishes between number three and 40 in marathon in the World Athletics Championship is a potential marathon winner in future such events.

When Simbu finished fifth, during the last Olympic Games, Filbert Bayi, Suleiman Nyambui and Juma Ikangaa said Simbu would win a gold medal in any marathon within no time.

As rightly predicted by the three former international athletes, Simbu would go on to win a gold medal in the Mumbai Marathon in India before he went on to finishing fifth in London Marathon in April this year.

He then finished third to win a bronze in the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London. Therefore, I would not be surprised if Simbu won a gold medal in the next Olympic Games in 2020 Tokyo.

The same thing can be more or less said about the four young, Tanzanian athletes who finished up to 38th in the marathon, during the World Athletics Championship in London.

Just by being able to finish the marathon race in the World Athletics Championship, the young Tanzanian athletes are now filled with confidence which should now goad them in doing better in future international marathon events.

But for these young men and others who are being seeded by the AT in other field events from 100m to 10,000m, it is just a matter of time before they also join their senior brother, Simbu, in winning in their respective events in future international athletics championships.

However, for these athletes to do well in their respective events in future, they need to be supported morally and financially, and here comes in the AT’s call for assistance.

Therefore if we want AT to continue doing what they doing, producing winners in international athletics events, we need to dig deep into our pockets in order to assist them. Let us all start dishing out financial assistance if we really want to bask in our athletes’ future success.

*Attilio Tagalile is a journalist/author and media consultant based in Dar es Salaam and can be contacted through tagalileattilio@yahoo. co.uk

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