22 November 2017

Tanzania Runners Set Sights On the 2020 Olympics

Over 200 young ladies from various regions around the country are expected to compete in the National Athletics Championship set for Friday at the National Stadium.

Organised by Athletics Tanzania (AT) in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), the event will draw young runners from Morogoro, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Kigoma, Manyara, Ruvuma, Dar es Salaam and Kusini Unguja.

Other regions expected to field athletes in the race are Songwe, Kaskazini Unguja, Mjini Magharibi, Shinyanga, Kusini Pemba, Dodoma, Simiyu, Kaskazini Pemba, Coast Region, Tanga, Njombe, Simiyu, Singida, Mwanza, Tabora, Geita, Arusha, Mtwara and Kagera.

Speaking at the launch of the race yesterday, Jica goodwill ambassador, Juma Ikangaa, said three regions were yet to confirm their participation in the event.

Ikangaa, once of the country's best long distance runners, named the regions yesterday as Iringa, Katavi and Lindi.

Ikangaa said runners who will shine during the championship would form a provisional squad for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"Tanzania is endowed with gifted athletes who only need grooming and exposure to excel internationally," the Tanzanian athletics legend said.

"To ensure that Tanzanian girls win medals at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, we will use Friday's championship to select runners who will undergo intensive training ahead of the games," he said.

On his part, Jica official Toshio Nagase said the event dubbed 'Ladies First' will involve both track and field events.

The athletes will compete in long jump, javelin, shot put, discus as well as the girls'100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m races, according to Nagase.

"As you might know, Tanzania won its first medal in international athletics competitions in 1965 in javelin in Congo Brazzaville through a female athlete, Theresa Dismas," Toshio said.

The Jica official voiced disappointment that, in the recent past, local female athletes have been performing poorly in international competitions.

But he said he was optimistic that young ladies who will represent Tanzania at the Tokyo Olympics would restore the country's lost glory in the energy-sapping sport.

Speaking at the same occasion, the National Sports Council (NSC) secretary general, Mohamed Kiganja, urged regions that have yet to confirm participation to ensure they do before the race.

Kiganja said hosting the youth championship was one of the best ways to unearth a new generation of the country's athletics stars.


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