19 April 2017

Tanzania: Simbu May Miss London Showpiece

Dar es Salaam — Tanzania's long distance runner Alphonce Simbu may miss out on this year's London Marathon after failing to get a United Kingdom (UK) visa.

With only four days to go before the race takes place in London, the 2017 Mumbai Marathon gold medalist is still striving to get the visa, it has been revealed.

According to Athletics Tanzania (AT) secretary general Wilhelm Gidabuday, the athlete has been forced to apply for it in South Africa after failing to do so in the country.

In an interview, Gidabuday said yesterday that Simbu did not follow proper procedures when applying for the visa.

He said the athlete opted to apply for it in South Africa after consulting the minister for Information, Culture and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe.

Simbu is among the star athletes from various countries around the world expected to battle it out for top honours in the event slated for Sunday.

Gidabuday said Simbu failed to apply for it at least five days before his departure because he was busy, undergoing intensive training ahead of the London showpiece.

"If all goes well, he (Simbu) will get the visa tomorrow (today) and leave for the UK the following day," the AT official said.

Simbu, who snatched a gold medal at the Mumbai Marathon earlier this year, has promised to do Tanzanians proud again by winning the London race.

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, who is the second-fastest marathon runner in history, will be one of Simbu's main rivals at the London Marathon.

Bekele, widely regarded as the greatest distance runner of all time and world record holder over 10,000 and 5,000 metres, is among runners tipped to shine in London.

Also on the list is Kenyan Stanley Biwott, winner of the 2015 New York City Marathon.

He will lead the Kenyan challenge in the absence of Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, who has opted not seek a third consecutive London title.

But Simbu believes he has what it takes to become the first Tanzanian to win the London marathon.


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