Tanzania: Work Diligently to Revive Olympic Sports

UNLIKE boxing which is now regaining life, mainly at a professional level, many of what we call Olympic sports seem to be close to the deathbed, combined efforts must be done to revive them. Most of the sports activities, especially athletics, handball, netball, amateur boxing are scarcely attended even those staged at the ultra-modern Benjamin Mkapa stadium.

Nothing serious has been reported in terms of preparations for the Olympic Games with just four months remaining before the games start in Japan, a situation that urges a quick intervention to save the sports from total collapse.

We hoped the major Olympic sports, especially athletics and boxing, to be fully revived five years after Alphonce Simbu claimed the 5th place in the Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro, a feat that sparked and revived the country's quest for big games' medals.

It was very motivating then to see Simbu influencing other athletes to train seriously for the world class races and four of them managed to have promising performances, though the number was too small compared to the overwhelmingly big number of world-class runners Kenya or Ethiopia produces.

As we have seen most of the runners excel in long distance races and marathons, we would suggest the athletics revival campaign should also groom sprinters and amateur boxing as well. We seriously urge athletics stakeholders to join hand in motivating the revival of athletics and boxing since they can help us win medals like in the past when boxer Titus Simba won a silver medal in 1970, Claver Kamanya won bronze in 400m and later Filbert Bayi, who won the country's first gold in Commonwealth Games.

A few notable others are Samuel Mwera and Lwiza John who won the country's last medals in the 800m discipline in 2005. We laud all those who made the recent achievement as we again insist all Tanzanians to support the medal-haul campaign. The glorious days of athletics which looked not far away after the Simbu feat, now seem to be far from reach as the sport seems to be still stuck.

Though it is very difficult to force the football-mania Tanzanians to take interest in athletics and boxing, we believe with increased awareness, promotion and motivation from combined efforts of all stakeholders, athletics can return to the golden era of Filbert Bayi and Suleiman Nyambui who won the only country's Olympic medals 40 years ago in Moscow-staged games. Let's work together diligently, we can rescue athletics.

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