Dar es Salaam. Team Tanzania’s preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games suffered early setback yesterday when the country’s cycling sensation, Richard Laizer, pulled out of the multi-sport event.
His withdrawal comes only days after the talented but controversial rider accused the Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC) of not respecting opinions of the athletes making up the squad for the Games.
And this means Tanzania’s hopes for medals in cycling at the Games scheduled for July 23 to August 3 in Glasgow, Scotland now rest on the shoulders of one rider--Philemon Mollel.
In the past five days, Laizer has come into collision course with TOC several times over the number of cyclists in Team Tanzania for the Glasgow Games.
“I understand that people will be disappointed that I will not be competing at the Commonwealth Games. I am also disappointed,” the 24-year-old rider said yesterday.
“If relevant authorities can’t respect the opinions of players then there is no point in going to Glasgow to compete.
“If you look at Team Tanzania you will realise that there are only two cyclists. You can’t field such number of riders in big competition like the Commonwealth Games and expect them to win medals,” he added.
He accused the TOC of being biased in the selection of the team, noting that cycling, swimming and weight lifting are the only associations with fewer athletes in Team Tanzania.
Like cycling, the swimming and weight lifting associations will also field two athletes each at the Games, which will see 4,500 athletes compete for 261 medals in 17 sports at 14 venues around Glasgow and beyond.
“It would be better for the government and TOC to field at least three cyclists at the Games. I would like to wish my fellow athletes all the best for Glasgow and I hope they bring home medals,” he said.
The other sports in which the country will field athletes are boxing (5), athletics (7), Judo (4), table tennis (4).
When contacted for comment on the matter, the TOC secretary general, Filbert Bayi urged the cyclist to mull things over before making a firm decision.
“He has not officially informed us about it. What I would like to advise him is that he has to rethink his decision,” he said.