The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

Arusha Open Athletics Honours Filbert Bayi with a special 1500 meters racing event 2024

The maiden Arusha Open Athletics Championships which were supposed to be held in 2023 and had to be postponed to 2024 due pounding rains, has taken a new approach in honoring a legendary runner from Tanzania.

This time, the organizers have added a special 1500 meters racing category to honor Filbert Bayi the Tanzanian gold medal winning athlete.

Filbert Bayi did set the racing milestone in topping the 1500 meters race during the Commonwealth Games of 1974.

“Bayi’s record is yet to be broken within Commonwealth Games and Tanzanian circles,” points out the Secretary of the Arusha Regional Athletics Association (ARAA), Rogath Steven.

However, in world athletics events a runner from Morocco managed to surpass Bayi’s greatest moment.

The Tanzanian runner set the record of the 1500 meters finals during the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Born in Karatu district of Arusha, Filbert Bayi won the gold medal ahead of New Zealand runner John Walker and Kenyan athlete Ben Jipcho.

During the event, Bayi set a new world record of 3 minutes and 32 seconds, which was ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The world record was broken in Italy in 1998 by Hicham El Guerrouj, an athlete from Morocco.

Now the Open Athletics Championships is out to recall the world record and Tanzania’s input in the global athletics events.

Initially the stadium-based sporting feat was scheduled to take place on the 8th of November 2023, at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium but El-Nino rains had drenched the running tracks then.

Arusha Open Athletics is annually organized in the Northern Zone to accommodate short distance runners and take a break from cross-country marathons.

The Arusha Open Athletics Championships is designed to be a stadium based type of racing events specifically tailored to accommodate short distance runners.

This event also features 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters and 800 meters relay racing, shot put, as well as long-jump events for male and female.

However, the 5000 meters race has been excluded from the event because this segment is being classified as long-distance racing, which is against their mission to deal with only short races.

Many athletes from various regions participate in the Arusha Open Athletics Championships whose target is to identify new talents in a series of other sporting events such as Javelin, Shot Put, long Jumps and high jumps as well as relay racing.

“We have been so much used to long-distance marathons, it is high time we turn focus to alternative athletics events such as the arena based type of racing,” the ARAA Secretary stated.

According to Rogathe, they hope that in future all other regions of Tanzania will be inspired to start staging such open athletics championships.

More than 200 athletics from across the country are racing in the Arusha open athletics event; this is according to the organizers.

The Arusha Open Athletics Championships participants include the host Arusha, Tanga, Songwe, Mara, Simiyu, Mwanza and Mbeya.

Other runners hail from Dodoma, Manyara, Singida, Dar-es-salaam and Kilimanjaro regions.

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