Under Samia, medal droughts is history now

TANZANIA: SPORTS sector in Tanzania has witnessed a tremendous success in the three-year reign of President Samia Suluhu Hassan as now the country wins medals in the global level events.

Most notable was the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham, England where Tanzania returned with three awards; silver and two bronze medals).

It was from Birmingham where a marathoner, Alphonce Simbu and two pugilists, Yusuf Changarawe and Kassim Mbundwike won medals after the country’s failure to win a single medal for 16 years.

After completing the campaign with three medals, Tanzania finished 32nd in the overall medal table.
The games involved 72 countries, Alphonce Simbu won a silver medal while Changalawe and Mbundwike each won a bronze medal.

Athletics seemed to have regained then as a few months later Gabriel Geay set the national marathon record after winning a silver in the Valencia Marathon where he clocked 2 hours and 03 minutes.

Apart from breaking a national record, he improved his personal best time from two hours, four minutes and fifty-five seconds that he recorded in Italy during the Milano Marathon.The marathon record he achieved in Italy became the national record.

Geay has maintained his quality and consistence for years now, as in April last year he proudly waved the national team flag, clinching a silver medal after finishing second in the Boston Marathon. He clocked 2 hours, 6 minutes and 4 second.

Geay’s victory in the Boston Marathon brings up the memory of the legendary marathoner Juma Ikangaa, a sentimental favourite in the Boston Marathon after finishing second in three Boston Marathon in 1988,1999 and 1990.

Ikangaa is a long-living memory in Tanzania, who won gold in the 1989 New York City Marathon in a course-record time of 2:08:01; he also won gold in Tokyo marathon twice in 1984 and 1986.

Besides bringing good memories, Geay holds the national marathon record after winning a silver medal in the 2022 Valencia Marathon last December, clocking 2 hours and 03 minutes.

Two months later, Geay won 10km race in Boston again, unveiled dedication and consistency from the start of the race as his only winning secret in the 10km road race held in Boston, USA.

Geay clocked 27.49 minutes to take home the gold medal and a trophy, beating Kenyan runners; Edwin Kurgat (28:01) and Alex Masai (28:09) to claim the title.Besides snatching the medal, Geay received 10,000US dollars (24 million).

“I tried to push at the beginning, and from 6km or 5km, I tried again to push it.“Three guys were at my back but dropped off in a few meters. I intended to win,” he said.

Geay also remarked he met his goal, as he wanted to complete the race at the 27th minute, and he did it.
“The time was fast. I hoped to run 27; I’m happy because of the weather.”

In the next month, Geay conquered Atlanta city in the United States of America after finishing second in the 10km race of the 54th Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race.

In the race, Geay clocked 27:43 minutes, just a second behind race winner Charles Langat of Kenya, while a third was Ethiopian Nibret Melak.

Olympic qualifier
Simbu won the bronze medal in the Osaka Marathon after clocking 2:06:19 at the Osaka Castle Park in Japan.

The results also mean that Simbu has qualified to compete in the World Championships scheduled to take place in Budapest in Hungary in August this year, also in the Olympic Games of Paris, France in 2024.

Other than Simbu qualifying for Olympics this year, Magdalena Shauri and Gabriel Geay also qualified through different event.

Magdalena Shauri sealed a ticket for Olympics last September after she finished third in the Berlin Marathon.

Shauri clocked 2 hours, 18 minutes, and 41 seconds that enabled her not only qualify for Olympics but also broke the Women’s National marathon record held by Banuelia Mrashani by six minutes.Banuelia record remained unbroken for 21 years.

Grassroot development
Last year, a young athlete Elia Clement earned Tanzania long jump gold in the East and Central African U-18 and U-20 Athletic Championship at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Clement won the only gold after clearing 6.29m beating tough contenders from Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar, Sudan Kusini and Somalia.

Tanzania also hauled silver and bronze medals in the competition.
Salima Charles and Elizabeth Ilanda also excelled in the 800m race after finishing second and third, respectively.
Tanzania won the second bronze through Damian Christian, who finished third in the men’s 800m race.

After the team finished third overall in the women’s 100×4 relay.

Such success has been unique in historical as the last time Tanzania won a medal in Commonwealth Games was in 2006 in the Melbourne Games through marathoner Samson Ramadhan who won gold. Fabiano Joseph won bronze in the 10,000m race.

Since 2006, Tanzania had to win a medal as the country returned empty-handed in the games held in New Delhi in 2010, Glasgow, Scotland in 2014, and Gold Coast Australia in 2018.

The last time a Tanzania boxer won a medal in boxing was in the 1998 Club Games record, 24 years after Michael Yombayomba won the country’s first gold in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

During President Samis’s reign, Tanzania has witnessed the national women’s boxing team participating in a global event.

Two Tanzanian ladies, Beatrice Nyambega and Rahma Maganga flew to New Delhi, India, for IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships last year.

Tanzania did not seal a medal in a mega event, but made history for women in global boxing.

Lucky, last August a female puglist, Grace Mwakamele, won silver medal and became the first Tanzanian lady to win a boxing medal. She won the medal during the African Boxing Championship in Yaounde, Cameroon.

On the same event Yusuf Changalawe grabbed bronze. Years back, during the presidency of Mwalimu Nyerere, sports had been among the big beneficiaries. Many Tanzanians witnessed those significant improvements in athletics, boxing and football.

A few individuals brought pride to the nation during his reign by picking several medals in the Olympics, Commonwealth and All-Africa Games: Filbert Bayi, Suleiman Nyambui, Juma Ikangaa, Gidamis Shahanga, Habib Kinyogoli, Emanuel Mlundwa, Michael Yomba Yomba, Haji Matumla being the most brilliant ones.

Nevertheless, Tanzania’s success during Nyerere’s reign has been a mark that athletes struggle to meet today.

The cause of this achievement was the country’s response to the Head of State’s announcement in 1973 that the Olympic or Club games, mainly athletics, should be a national sport.

As a result, the country massively embraced a multi-sporting venture that opened doors to other sports in global class events.

Simbu brought the medal sixteen years after marathoner Samson Ramadhan won the gold medal in the club games held in Australia in 2006.

The success of the athletes and boxers in Birmingham seemed to revive both athletics and boxing.
As of today, professional boxing has won a bigger audience and its stakeholders as well.

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