by Philip Richards
Olympics London 2012
Tanzania were represented by seven athletes in the London Olympics which started on 27 July – three marathon runners, a long distance track runner (5000m), a boxer (welterweight) and two swimmers (100m freestyle). Their training base was Bradford College.
Success for Tanzania was long overdue, with the last medal being won 32 years ago at the Moscow Olympics of 1980. The Daily News reported that, in responding to a claim that Tanzania’s poor showing on the global sporting stage should be a cue to not participating at all and thus avoiding embarrassment, Deputy Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Amos Makala, said that the key to future medal success was rather to invest in longer term youth development programmes.
On the other hand, lack of funding and administrative wrangling still appears to hamper sporting success. The former was singled out by ex-Olympic champion Filbert Bayi, who suggested that until more investment was made, the nation should temper their exaggerated expectations of returns in the form of medals (Daily News 5 July). However, The Guardian reported a great deal of excitement around a reward of Tsh 3m, courtesy of a retired army general, to any athlete who brought home a medal – and this in addition to a reported Tsh10m offered by the Tanzania Olympic Committee!
In the event, Tanzania unfortunately failed to secure any medals in London. The marathon runners finished 33rd and 66th respectively – the winner being Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich. None of the other Tanzanian athletes reached their respective finals.
Paralympics – London 2012
The Guardian reported that Zaharani Mwenemti was awarded the sole place offered to Tanzania and will compete in the discus and shot-put.
In seeking to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Taifa Stars (the Tanzanian national side) are currently in second place in Group C (Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco and Gambia) with three points.. The Stars lost 2-0 to Ivory Coast in Abijan, but won 2-1 at home against Gambia. The next assignment will be a challenging one against one of Africa’s strongest nations, Morocco, in March 2013. The Daily News (21 July) reported Kim Poulsen, the Danish-born head coach, as saying that he would be looking for plenty of friendly matches to be organised in advance of that key game to prepare the players.
Unfortunately, in the other high profile football tournament in Africa, the 2013 African Nations Cup, Tanzania were knocked out by Mozambique in a penalty shoot out.
On a more positive note, Tanzania has been moving back up the FIFA rankings in the last few months, though they still rank at a position of 127 (out of 205) and have some way to go to surpass their highest ever ranking of 70 achieved in 1995 (FIFA.com).
Thanks to Erick Lihuluku of PwC in Dar es Salaam for his contribution to the above.
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