Tanzania: Runners Gun for Gold At Rio 2016

Team Tanzania athletes for the Olympic Games have been encouraged to roll up their sleeves and end Tanzania's 36-year Olympics medal drought at the Rio 2016.

"Go! Go for gold", they were told by Athletic Tanzania (AT) officials and other stakeholders during a farewell party held here over the weekend.

Alfredo Shahanga, AT secretary in Arusha region and a former national athlete implored on the runners preparing for the Rio Games to perform to the best of their ability.

"You have been entrusted with a big task to represent the country. You should do justice to your country by fighting hard for the medals", he said.

Tanzania will be represented by four runners for the 31st Olympics which started in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro last Friday with the grand official opening.

All of them are long distance runners and three of them will sweat it out with other athletes from across the world in the 42 kilometre marathon race to be held on August 21st, at the closing stage of the 16-day sports bonanza.

The three are Alphonce Felix Simbu, Saidi Juma Makula and Fabian Joseph. The contingent will depart for Brazil on August 16th, five days before the showdown.

The fourth marathon runner is a lady Sarah Ramadhani who will compete on Sunday (August 14th). She is leaving tomorrow (Wednesday).

Alfredo, who is the young brother of the medal winning Gidamis Shahanga, said he was hopeful the athletes representing the country in this year's Olympics would perform better given the long preparations and training stint.

"Our coaches have done all their best to put you in a competitive form. So it is now your turn to strive hard to end the medal drought our country has been subjected to for many years", he pointed out.

Another former national athletic champion Maximillian Irange said he was yearning for a day to see on international TV screens the Tanzanian flag flying high during the Olympics.

"It is now time our competitors to major events like the Olympics should no long be called tourists or visitors because of their failures to win", he said, pleading to the media to be patriotic and stop unnecessary criticisms every time the athletes return home empty-handed.

Irange, who is currently in charge of sports academy in Arusha, is the country's record holder in 1,500 metre race for under-20 competitors some years ago.

Fabian Joseph from Manyara region said he was prepared for the Rio Olympics.

The Team Tanzania athletes are training at a forestry training institute at the high altitude at West Kilimanjaro, but would at time venture into Arusha for additional drills at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium.

Despite the enthusiasm shown, stakeholders in sports are concerned by the low number of the country's competitors to the Games, saying next time efforts should be made to assemble as many as possible so as to increase the chances of scores hitting the qualification mark.

Three other competitors for the country are two swimmers Hilal Hemed Hilal and Magdalena Moshi and a judoka Andrew Mlugu. The trio left the country last week in the company of scores of officials.

Source: The Citizen.