While other countries are already considering how best to prepare their teams for the Olympic Games slated for July 27-August 12 in London, most sports bodies in Tanzania have remained tight-lipped on whatever preparations they may be contemplating.
It is common knowledge that most of these bodies are faced with crippling funding problems and can hardly finance their training and other needs, but we must find ways out of the mess now instead of waiting for the government to chip in.
Tanzania Olympic Committee secretary general Filbert Bayi was quoted on Wednesday as saying time had come for all sports bodies concerned to start preparing for the Games.
He could scarcely have put it better because failure to engage in scientifically executed preparations only means poor performance and therefore loss of medals.
Bayi says TOC does not provide money to help associations prepare for the Games but, through International Olympic Committee, organises training camps for teams lined up for participation.
What that means is that sports bodies must start their preparations now instead of waiting for non-existent depending from TOC or the government. It means starting with other alternative (non-funded) ways of preparations such as serious practice sessions with athletes coming from their residences instead of training camp.
With roughly six months to go, time is still on our side and serious-minded sports bodies can use the time to mould teams that can win medals in London and give Tanzanians cause to smile.
Tanzania first featured in the Games in 1964 and has done so in all Summer Olympic Games since except for the 1978 Games, which were boycotted.
In 1970s and 1980s Tanzania was a respected nation as far as international games were concerned, with our athletes winning medals in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games - Bayi a silver in the men’s 3000m steeplechase and Suleiman Nyambui also a silver in the men’s 5000m.
However, Tanzanian athletes have since those years turned into virtual tourists visiting the cities hosting Olympic Games every four years.
We have had enough of that, and it’s time for change. It’s time to have athletes who compete for medals and don’t merely participate.
Without appropriate preparations, we could as well forget about winning medals just as happened in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games when we returned home with bags of excuses instead of even a single medal.
We meanwhile commend the Boxing Federation of Tanzania for announcing earlier this week that it will soon release its programme for preparations for the qualifying stages of London 2012.
The body said the programme will be released to enable stakeholders to financially and otherwise support the team national boxing squad to compete in the qualifying stages for African countries to be held in Morocco in April.
The Judo Association of Tanzania appears similarly serious about starting preparations for London. It reported recently that judokas from the Mainland and Zanzibar would compete in a Judocan Cup tournament after which a national team for the Olympics qualifying stages slated for January will be formed.
We urge all sports bodies that follow suit by starting preliminary preparations. There is no softer easier option.