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Athletes ordered to strike gold

Minister for Foreign Affair and International Cooperation Bernard Membe gave the order when delivering the president’s message to the 50 athletes going abroad for a two-month training tour ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

Membe said before handing over the national flag to Team Tanzania that President Kikwete is unhappy to see the country missing medals, especially gold, in international events and he does not want to end his term without seeing the country celebrating gold medals won by local athletes.

“That is why the president asked for the establishment of a ‘Sports Diplomacy’ so as to facilitate our athletes to have good, quality and intensive scientific training that will enable them to perform well in the Commonwealth Games and end the country’s medals drought,” he said.

Membe, whose ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, have made the athletes’ trip to China, Ethiopia, Turkey and New Zealand possible, also told the athletes that the president wants them to behave during their stay in their respective camps to safeguard the country’s honour.

The minister warned the athletes that the country does not expect them to stow away during their training tour.

“If any of you disappears it will tarnish the image of our country and the government will make sure the culprit is caught and dealt with accordingly.

All we want from you is to concentrate on training and perform well at the Commonwealth Games so that you can return home with medals,” he said.

Membe further urged the athletes, who were touched by his words of wisdom, to train and put God ahead of whatever they do, so that they can do well in Glasgow instead of heaping blames on others.

He assured all 50 athletes going abroad for training they will participate in the Commonwealth Games, saying the government will conduct a fund-raising campaign to ensure the money needed to facilitate their trip is available.

Earlier, the country was to be represented by a team of 36 sportsmen and women, including athletes, boxers, judokas, weightlifters, table tennis players, cyclists and Paralympics. According to the list released by the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports yesterday, four judokas, four boxers and two weightlifters will jet off to Turkey tomorrow by Turkish Airline. On the same day, ten sprinters will travel to Ethiopia and the other five will go to New Zealand, where legendary Filbert Bayi set a 1,500-metre world record at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch. Five boxers and the same number of table tennis players will depart on Sunday to China. Five swimmers will commence their one-and-a-half month training on June 6 in New Zealand as they will be sitting for examinations in their respective colleges. Meanwhile, Athletics Tanzania (AT) has revealed that Sarah Ramadhan has been dropped from the squad as she has been banned for two years by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) due to doping.

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