Tanzanian marathon hero concerned about lack of funds(Olympics Snippets)

July 1st, 2008 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 1 (Xinhua) Tanzanian marathon hero John Stephen Akhwari said here that he was concerned over the lack of funds to develop his country’s athletics. Akhwari, the most famous last place finisher in an Olympic Games marathon, was paying his second visit to the Olympic host city.

“Lack of funds is the biggest problem for us,” said the 70-year-old. “We cannot afford building sport schools. Besides, we also lack funds to pay for students’ accommodation, training and tuition.

“If only we had enough funds to bring up more young talents, we would have created more good results in world class competition,” said Akhwari.

Tanzania is yet to win a marathon medal at any Olympic Games after Akhwari first represented his country in the Mexico City Games in 1968 when he dragged his injured leg to finish last, with four hours 30 minutes, in the marathon race. The winner, Mamo Wolde from Ethiopia, took the race in 2:20.26.

But he became one of the most memorable figures in the Olympic history with his persistence.

“My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish,” said the then 30-year-old athlete.

Despite his last finish, Akhwari was honoured as a national hero by Tanzania in 1983.

He was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in April this year in the Beijing Olympic torch relay’s Dar es Salaam leg.


Chinese Sun gets tennis wildcard for Olympics

Beijing: China’s top ranked male tennis player Sun Peng, who claimed the gold medal at the 2005 Chinese National Games, was among the 12 players who have been given wildcards at the Beijing Olympics, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said.

Besides, Nicolas Massu of Chile, who won gold medals in singles and doubles at the 2004 Olympics, also gained a coveting slot on the Olympic draw sheet. The 28-year-old has slumped to 131st in world rankings.

And the 24-year-old Sun had to settle for an even further 485th currently.
“I’m very happy, I’m always glad to represent my country,” Massu was quoted as saying. “Playing for Chile is always a top priority for me, especially because of the great memories I have from four years ago.”

Massu won the doubles gold with Fernando Gonzalez, who will also play in Beijing. They are the only two Chileans to win Olympic golds.

The places also go to Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden, Max Mirnyi of Belarus, Kevin Anderson of South Africa, and Kei Nishikori of Japan.

In women’s part, Alicia Molik of Australia, Maria Koryttseva of Ukraine, Chan Yung-Jan of Chinese Taipei, Ayumi Morita of Japan, Nuria Llagostera-Vives of Spain and Selima Sfar of Tunisia had the luck.

The ITF places are awarded to players who do not meet the direct acceptance requirements of the tournament but who meet other criteria that would enhance the field for the 2008 competition, said the ITF.

“Each of the players who has been awarded an ITF place brings special qualities to the field,” ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said. “Some of the players are young competitors from underrepresented parts of the world, while others are former medallists or long-standing participants in their country’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup efforts.”


Athletics Kenya announce selection mode for Olympics

Nairobi: Athletics Kenya (AK) announced the selection mode that will be used to select its Olympic team during the national athletics trials to be held this weekend.

Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said that the first two athletes across the line will automatically make the team with the third being selected by a panel of selectors.

The athletics body also announced that it will let athletes compete in some races ahead of the Olympics.

Kiplagat said that there will be more than a month from the trials to the games and that it would only be fair to let the athletes compete in a few races to stay sharp provide they get permission from the coaches.

The two day trials will be held July 4 and 5 in Nairobi. African 800m champion Pamela Jelimo said she was happy with her showing at the national championships and is looking forward to the trials.

“I wanted to see where I was in terms of speed ahead of the trails because 800 meters is so fast almost like 400 meters and I was happy with my performance,” Jelimo said.

The 18-year-old said she was looking forward to the Olympics. “I am now training for the Olympics. We are going to do the best at the trials and train hard and make our team the best so that when we get out there we shall do Kenyans proud,” said Jelimo. She was full of praise of the pre-Olympic training camps held in Eldoret and Nairobi saying they had been of great help.

“The teamwork between athletes was very good because athletes who had no place to train got a chance to train well and improve because they were training with other athletes and had coaches to guide them,” she said.


Despite scandal, Bulgrian weightlifters will take part in Olympics

Sofia: The Bulgarian Olympic Committee (BOC) has decided not to stop the national weightlifting team from participating in the Beijing Olympics despite a doping scandal, the media reported Monday.

The scandal flared up Friday when Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation (BWF) president Anton Kodjabashev confirmed that 11 members of the national weightlifting team were found to have used prohibited substances.

All of Bulgaria’s best weightlifters who have been preparing for the Beijing Olympics were found to have used doping: samples taken from them June 8 and 9 tested positive for the anabolic steroid methanedienone.

BOC president Stefka Kostadinova said that the Bulgarian delegation to the Olympics will have a weightlifting team. She said they would ask BWF to prepare and send a team to Beijing, even if it is a back-up team.

Kostadinova said that she hoped for negative B-samples. “Unfortunately, there is hardly a case of positive A-samples and negative B-samples,” she added. The results of the B-samples are due a month from now.

She hopes that the International Olympic Committee would not punish the Bulgarian weightlifters and that BWF would produce a well-prepared team B.

If, however, IOC take a decision for a punishment, BOC will have to punish BWF, including by revoking its licence - probably for two years.

Also, the coach of the weightlifting team and the federation president will be sanctioned, and the subsidies for weightlifting will be cut down.

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