As usual, empty-handed Tanzania Olympic athletes are expected home later this week from London where they ‘competed’ in the global Games.
The team, comprising four runners, one boxer and a swimming duo, participated rather than competed in the event but had little to show.
Despite our 32 years of consistent appearance in the Games, medal hopes have continued to so cruelly elude us.
Poor preparations have always been cited whenever our athletes flop at the Olympics and most other high-profile international events.
The London Olympics were the ninth appearance for Tanzania since Filbert Bayi and his colleague Suleiman Nyambui boarded a return flight from Moscow in then communist Soviet Union with two medals in 1980.
But the dismal performance in London was widely expected, what with the sub-standard and poor coordinated preparations during the run-up to the Games.
There were serious problems right from the residential training stage at Kibaha in Coast region, where the weather was described as far from supportive of athletes seeking a ‘winning formula’.
Some athletics stakeholders advised the Tanzania Olympic Committee to reconsider the choice of the training venue, but no one was impressed.
Surprisingly, some of the world’s best and most experienced personalities travelled all the way to the Kenyan highlands to camp for training backed by the advantages the high-altitude there would offer.
Tanzania is not without geographical conditions similar to those to be found in the Kenyan highlands. Examples include Iringa, Karatu and Mbeya, any of which would have served a much better purpose than Kibaha had we planned more wisely.
Some athletes like Faustine Musa practically found themselves left to their own devices, thus forgoing the obvious benefits of joint sessions.
Over 136m/- was spent – critics say wasted – on the training sessions before more funding was made available for the upkeep of the Olympic contingent in London.
Even the government fell short of ensuring timely disbursement of the much-needed funds ahead of the team’s departure – and so the poor athletes and most other members of delegation jetted off literally penniless.
The Games schedule was public knowledge right from the beginning, so it was lack of forward thinking and commitment that brought us the shame we witnessed in horror.
Thanks to their patriotism and love for sports, our ambassadors to the Games left with high expectations of sparkling but as usual all we now expect are flimsy excuses about our failure to shine.
The London debacle has befallen us at a time when Athletics Tanzania and the Tanzania Olympic Committee are under the leadership of officials who know very well what it takes to win medals at the Games.
Given this scenario, one wonders whether it’s not high time we had new faces in charge. It appears that the current leaders have all but run out of ideas on how to save the boat from sinking deeper and deeper, while the nation needs better performance.
The next Olympics will be staged in Brazil in 2006, and we have ample time to scout for athletes, swimmers or boxers able to represent us better. Let’s ensure the dream comes true. To plan is to choose.