Should we expect medals from Rio?

25Apr 2016
The Guardian
Should we expect medals from Rio?

IT has been close to four decades now since Tanzanian athletes won medals from the Olympic Games despite our regular participation every time the global event is staged.

Poor preparations have been the scapegoat every time our athletes board flights back home empty handed. This is despite the fact the Olympic Games are staged between lengthy periods of time, giving enough time for sports authorities in the country to mould winning outfits.

Very surprising however, despite the ample time to prepare and the abundance of athletic talents scattered all over the country we can never seem to be able to tap and develop them into winning outfits.

It is also not necessary that we win medals from athletics, we have other options like swimming, golf and boxing that could produce competent athletes to finish at the podium.

Very talented swimmers from the Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria are just ignored for no apparent reasons. The Kara communities are widely known for their swimming expertise but no efforts are taken to tap their immense talent.

If the Kara people can swim to catch fish from the lake waters amid turbulence and strong current, what about swimming in still pool water?

Nonetheless, admittedly, swimming, boxing, ping-pong and golf these are categories that need establishment of infrastructure but what of running, a sport that needs personal stamina and coaching more than infrastructure, yet even here we lag behind.

The Tanzania Olympic Committee, TOC, whose officials are keen to retain posts more than show their competence in organising formidable teams for the Olympics, waits patiently for travelling opportunities to attend IOC annual general meetings and to pocket the related allowances but little innovation or effort is exhibited to develop the teams.

It seems that these officials have completely forgotten the key objectives of attending the Olympic Games, and so they prioritize there per diem allowances above preparing for victory.

Tanzania is the only counry in the East African region that fields zero medals at the Olympic Games with increasing frequency.

We must feel ashamed of this peculiar habit of being branded as pushovers and not competent participants at the Olympics. Why should this trend take dominance while we have the potential and abundance of talent scattered all over the country?

On the other hand, our neighbour Kenya is world renowned in marathons and long distance events. Had Kenya been geographically located very far, then we would settle for the fact that we have no funds to travel there to learn from their athletes and coaches but Kenya is just a stone away from Tanzania.

Why we don’t make efforts to send our young athletes to join the fray of their Kenyan counterparts in training?

The frequency in Olympic mediocre shows must come to an end and we must win our place as true competitors at the Rio Games, barely three months from taking off. We have had equal time to train our athletes as have had our competitors, there is no reason why we should fail to win medals.