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Tuesday,November 13,2018 23:10 PM

Tartan Burners blazing to new heights

By James Bakama

Added 23rd July 2018 11:04 AM

The second edition of the meet, featuring many of the country’s top talents at Namboole on Saturday, left everyone impressed.

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The second edition of the meet, featuring many of the country’s top talents at Namboole on Saturday, left everyone impressed.

A group of active and retired athletes under the umbrella of Tartan Burners Athletics Club (TBAC) is determined to make Uganda a leading athletics destination.

Through its annual competition, the TBAC Invitational, they are breaking new ground as far as meet organisation in Uganda is concerned.

The second edition of the meet, featuring many of the country’s top talents at Namboole on Saturday, left everyone impressed.

Right from time keeping, race scheduling, athletes’ and officials’ rewards you could see a competition measuring up to international standards.

Just like in major international events, each competitor had a kit basket provided by TBAC that was immediatel6y delivered to participants after each event.

Then to ensure maximum coverage from all angles, the organisers also had a drone. This was all on top of a branded T-shirt for everyone involved in the organization.

TBAC officials told me that they follow the International Association of Athletics Federation Diamond League model.

“Our dream is to make this competition this competition the most attractive on the continent,” explained TBAC member Mildred Gamba.

Unlike other local meets that usually begin hours late, this competition started on time. The organisers were as a result able to complete the event within the set two and a half hours.

Save for the opening event that had a faulty gun delaying the start of the women’s 400 meters, the rest of the events ran on schedule.

Then, there was something reasonable for athletes’ to take home after the meet.

Other athletics competitions only have competitors rewarded at the season’s biggest event- the national championship.

And even this reward is laughable. The winner gets sh30,000 ($8), runner-up sh20,000 ($5.3) and third person sh10,000 ($2.6).

The winners’ prize is barely enough to cater for an athlete’s transport from Kapchorwa.

Factor in the same athlete’s accommodation, feeding and medical budget. Is it therefore surprising that many big names never feature in the local meets?

On Saturday TBAC gave the winners sh80,000, runners-up sh70,000, third sh60,000, fourth sh50,000, fifth sh40,000, sixth sh30,000, seventh sh20,000 and eighth sh10,000.

This was on top of attractive medals for the top three plus appreciation letters for other personalities who contributed to the meet.

While TBAC should be commended, so should local athletics governing body UAF for its spirit of inclusiveness.

I know federations that would be very uncomfortable with such groups. But UAF supported the event even paying the officials.

What TBAC should work on next is acquisition of a big sponsor.

They will only attract big foreign stars and thereby boost the profile of the competition with bigger incentives.

They can thereafter plan on having even more competitions and possibly even a jackpot. Everyone loves a well-organized event with attractive cash prizes.

With big names thronging Kampala television money will follow. This will be the turning point.

This might for now seem like wishful thinking but making this dream a reality it is very possible.

 

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