London — TANZANIA is behind its six member national Olympic team, which has started preparations at Bradford University in Leeds ahead of the major competitions starting in two weeks' time here in London, President Jakaya Kikwete has said.
In the company of First Lady Salma Kikwete, the President met the team here yesterday and asked them to put up surprises in the world's foremost multi-sport event opening on July 27. The crème of over 10,000 sportsmen and women from various countries across the world are expected to battle it out for top honours at the quadrennial summer event.
President Kikwete asked the team that as they undergo further training in Blackford for three weeks before competing in the games, they should only be after winning medals as they have pledged.
"I want to know your progress. You put your own mark. Put surprises. Miracles are always possible," he said in a gripping moment characterized with optimism. President Kikwete praised the athletes for being able to make it to the Olympics and was impressed with the team members' recitations that they are only after clinching medals.
He wished them luck, noting that even as he won't be in London when the games start in two weeks' time, he would ensure he watches the games on television at moments when Tanzanian teams are participating. The team members thanked the President for seeing them and motivating them.
They promised that they would work hard to lift Tanzania's pride. He was nostalgic of the years when Tanzania was on the world map in the Olympics, challenging the athletes to restore the country honours. He also seized the opportunity to call on some soccer clubs to drop the tradition of sinking into conflicts from time to time.
Athletes said they had found the preparations facility at Bradford College in Leeds well equipped to make their preparations on mark. Athletes making up the squad are boxer Selemani Kidunda, swimmer Magdalena Moshi, middle distance runner Zakhia Mrisho and marathoners Samson Ramadhan, Faustin Mussa and Mohamed Msenduki.
London seems ready to host the event dubbed 'London 2012', with a special exclusive lane already demarcated through London roads for the event. Flags from all countries participating, including that of Tanzania have been put up across the famous Regent road flying ahead of the competition.
The Olympics are held once every four years and are the pinnacle of sports events and Tanzania, in 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow had her own Filbert Bayi win a silver medal in the 3000m steeplechase and Suleiman Nyambui bringing the 5000m bronze medal home.
It first participated at the Olympic Games in 1964, and has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since then, except for the boycotted 1976 Games. Tanzanian athletes have won a total of two medals, both in athletics, and yesterday, President Kikwete used the opportunity to urge team leaders to scale up athletics since it's a game that once put Tanzania's name on the world map.
He said he had already met former Tanzanian world athletic champions and asked them to think out a way on how they can use their names in the limelight to further develop the sport through mobilizing for resources from all over the world. The team, evidently in high spirits here, had a three month training stint in Kibaha, Coast Region and was flagged off last week on Friday with 13m/- cash promise for each medal to be won in London.