Dar es Salaam. Athletics Tanzania (AT) has congratulated long distance runners Alphonce Simbu and Augustino Sulle for qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Simbu and Sulle secured qualifying marks for the Olympic Games after clocking 2.08.27 and 2.12.42 respectively in the Lake Biwa Marathon in Osaka, Japan on Sunday.
The qualifying mark for the Olympic Games is two hours and 14 minutes, according to World Athletics Federation (IAAF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“They have shown that they are as good as the world’s best,” the AT secretary general, Wilhelm Gidabuday, said yesterday.
Simbu finished sixth in the closely-contested race while Sulle finished 17th.
Morocco’s Salah Bounasr won the race, which also saw two Japanese runners booking places at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Bounasr won in a personal-best two hours, seven minutes and 52 seconds, while Kenji Yamamoto finished seventh in 2:08:42 to lead the domestic contingent.
Yamamoto and eighth-placed Yuki Kawaguchi had already earned a spot in September’s Marathon Grand Championship – the race that will decide Japan’s team for next year’s Olympics.
A silver medal went to Asefa Tefara of Ethiopia, who clocked 2.07.56, while South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka claimed a bronze after clocking 2.07.58.
Bahrain runner Benson Seurei finished fourth with 2.08.08. The fifth position went to Ethiopia’s Derive Robi, who clocked 2.08.11.
Gidabuday challenged Simbu and Sulle to train even harder ahead of the Tokyo Games scheduled for July 24 to August 9, 2020.
He expressed optimism that more Tanzanian runners would attain qualifying marks before the deadline set by IOC and IAAF.
“Tanzania is endowed with gifted runners who only need exposure to excel internationally,” the AT official added.
Simbu is among famous athletes who opted to skip the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, last year, due to what he described as ‘unavoidable circumstances.’