Kampala. After the painful exit of Uganda Cranes from the on-going African Cup of Nations competition in Gabon, sports fans here are now turning their eyes on the IAAF World Cross Country Championship to be held here on March 26. The organisers are confident that over 60 countries, including Tanzania, will participate in the athletic race that will be held at the Kololo Independence Ground.
However, with the January 31st deadline for confirmation drawing closer, only have confirmed to participate, according to the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF). Among the countries which have confirmed to take part in the race are Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Botswana, South Africa, Sierra Leone,Spain, Canada, Australia, Tajikstan, United States and, of course, the host country, Uganda. The organisers could not be reached to explain on Tanzania’s participation but Athletics Tanzania (AT) secretary general Wilhelm Gidabuday said in Arusha recently that Tanzania’s was prepared for the race which would be held in East Africa for the second time in a decade.
The last time the region hosted the championship was in 2007 in Mombasa, Kenya. He told The Citizen that Tanzania would take advantage of the this year’s 42nd edition of the race given the proximity of the country to the venue. He was confident Tanzania’s athletes would perform better this time around. World Cross Country is one of the top athletic competitions organized by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF).
The last one was held in Guiyang, China and attracted 51 countries and 417 athletes. According to a media official for the games,Norman Katende, the competition in Kampala will also include a 10km races for the senior men and women plus an 8km sprint for junior men and 6km run for the junior women. Another official of the organizing team Faustino Kiwa was recently quoted by the local media saying they anticipated a crowd of up to 20,000 fans at the Kololo Grounds on the competition day.
According to him, among the beneficiaries of the competition will be young journalists and students in journalism schools and colleges who will work with IAAF’s social media experts under a mentorship programme. Uganda is the fourth African country to stage the event after Morocco, South Africa and Kenya. Morocco hosted the first edition in 1995 before South Africa in 1996 and South Africa again in 1998. Next was Kenya in 2007.