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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Athletics: President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete wants medals in Scotland

President Kikwete

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has urged Tanzanian athletes to end an acute drought of medals the country has been experiencing for a long time at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. The president conveyed the message to national sports associations shortly after receiving the Queen's Baton Relay at the State House in Dar es Salaam.

"The Queen's Baton Relay is a wakeup call to our athletes and should inspire them to perform better at the Commonwealth Games and I hope this time around Tanzania will be able to get at least one medal and end the acute drought of medal we are experiencing," he said.

Though Kikwete challenged the athletes and their associations to ensure they return home from Glasgow with a medal or medals, he said he is not sure how the athletes have been prepared for the event.

He said the problem facing Tanzanian sports associations is that they always prepare their athletes close to the event and that is why they do not fare well in various international competitions and end up being called tourists by the media when they return home empty handed. The president urged associations whose athletes are expected to take part in the Commonwealth Games scheduled for July 23 to August 3 in Scotland to start preparations now.

"We have a history of performing well in various sports competitions, including the Commonwealth Games in which Filbert Bayi broke a 1,500 metres world record in Christchurch, New Zealand and Titus Simba won a silver medal in boxing," Kikwete said. He added: "So we need to produce more Filbert Bayis like our neighbours Kenya who have more Kipchoge Keinos." Keino is among the Queen's Baton Relay team members.

Kikwete said Tanzanians have done it before and can do it now and in future, noting that the secret behind success is good preparations instead of dilly-dallying until the eleventh hour. "We should avoid pitching training camps when competitions are just around the corner. Associations should also be led by dedicated and responsible leaders. Short of that the country will continue to be a loser and a stepping stone for other countries which want success," he said.

The president, who seems to be hurt by the current trend of the country performing poorly in international tournaments, said he is looking forward to talking with the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), General Davis Mwamunyange, to see how the forces can invest in sports so as to unearth and groom young talents in the country.

Speaking at the event, the British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Dianna Melrose, said she was inspired by the way the Queen's Baton Relay has been received in the country and welcomed Tanzania athletes in Glasgow. She also wished them good Games and return home with medals.

On his side, the Queen's Baton Relay team leader, Adam Best, also wished Tanzanians athletes success in Glasgow and requested them to get ready for the event which is only a few months away. The Queen's Baton Relay will be raced in Zanzibar today and will be received by President Ali Mohamed Shein before it leaves for Seychelles to continue with its journey across the world. The relay was launched on October 9, last year at Buckingham Palace in London and Tanzania is the 29th stop on its route through 70 Commonwealth countries and territories, covering over 190,000 kilometres.

Source: Daily News Tanzania

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