The annual marathon event is one of the most popular and exotic global marathon destinations and is an unusual mix of rural African highlands scenery and top flight international runners. For the 10th consecutive year, Kilimanjaro Marathon has been the most exciting event in the Tanzania athletics calendar.
Last Sunday’s race attracted thousands of local runners, both youngsters and experienced top runners, bidding to win top honours but it was a total mess. Disgustingly, only Fabian Joseph, 1 hour, 3 minutes and 32 seconds managed to finish in top three in the half marathon men’s category behind Hosea Mallel of Kenya whose time of 1:03:00 won him this year’s event that went with a 3m/- cash prize.
Ngugi Geoffrey finished second (1:03.14). Tanzanian Mary Naali was a distance fifth after clocking 1:15.47 in the same category for ladies category. Otherwise, all other top ten finishers in the two categories were Kenyan. It was even heart breaking in full marathon were none of the Tanzanian runner managed to break into the top ten bracket in both men’s and ladies categories as Kenyans swept all medals and cash prizes to once again underline and signify the drastic fall of athletics standard in Tanzania.
The poor performance left Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Emmanuel Nchimbi agitated and said time is up to do away with irresponsible sports leaders. Nchimbi simply wanted leaders who have proved to be nothing but failures to be held responsible.
Nchimbi’s remarks are certainly true. They have failed to come up with viable development programmes be it short, medium and long term. The body can hardly afford to take runners to invitation events especially in Europe, USA and Japan from where they could attain qualification time for such events as Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
And, as the body prepares for its general elections on March 17 in Songea, we would wish to remind voters that Tanzania need “focused” not “bogus” sports leaders. Only focused leaders will help revitalise the ailing standard of athletics in Tanzania.