Dar es Salaam — The government has thrown its weight behind Tanzania's leading long distance runner Alphonce Simbu over participation in the 2018 Commonwealth Games planned for Gold Coast, Australia in April.
Reports on various media outlets had it that the Arusha based runner will not compete at the quadrennial showpiece after dropped from the Team Tanzania.
Instead, according to Athletics Tanzania (AT), Simbu, who has shot to fame in recent months, would compete at the money-spinning London Marathon, which will be held on April 22, next year.
However, the government through the he ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports ruled that there was no way Simbu would miss from the Australia bound team.
The director of Sports Development in the ministry, Yusuph Singo told The Citizen yesterday that Simbu is among the athletes who have applied for a visa with intention of competing in the games, stressing that he will be in the team despite the AT decision.
AT secretary general Wilhelm Gidabuday was quoted as saying that Simbu has been deliberately excluded from the Team Tanzania to give him more resting time ahead of the London Marathon.
According to reports, Gidabuday said the 25-year-old has competed in multiple competition within a short period and he needs more time to rest in order to have a meaningful impact at the London Marathon.
There were also reports that the runner had formally asked AT to drop him from the team earmarked for the Commonwealth Games. The showpiece is expected to start on April 4 and run through April 15.
Another source privy to the runner intimated that on technical grounds, Simbu, the Mumbai Marathon gold winner, would not be allowed to compete at the London Marathon should he decide to run at the Commonwealth Games.
"It is technically impossible to run two full marathon races in a space of a week. If he goes to Australia, it is obvious that he will not among those competing at the lucrative London event," he said.
However, Singo dismissed the claim saying his presence at the Commonwealth Games would not jeopardise his chances of winning a medal in London.
"I would like to assure all sports enthusiasts that Simbu will compete at the Gold Coast Games and he is still part of the 10 runners forming the national team. He is our top marathoner and the country banks on him to win a medal," he said.
He added: "Reasons given to exclude him from the team are baseless and Gidabuday has already distanced himself from what has been widely reported."