[WATCH] Africa Athletics Championships hits new low with use of outdated race starter

[WATCH] Africa Athletics Championships hits new low with use of outdated race starter

Joel Omotto 20:00 - 22.06.2024

There was further embarrassment at the African Athletics Senior Championships when races were started using an archaic equipment as athletes keep complaining over chaotic arrangements.

African Athletics Senior Championships have made news for all the wrong reasons, with lamentations from top athletes over the poor organisation.

Now, it appears even the organisers do not have the best tools as videos of officials starting the races using archaic equipment circulated online.

As the event started at Japoma Stadium in Doula, Cameroon on Friday, athletes could be seen being signaled to start the races using a wooden starter clapper, that was popular decades ago before it was replaced by modern starter pistols.

The fact that the organisers could not get something as basic as the starter right epitomises the chaotic arrangement of the Championship, Africa’s premier athletics event, that has attracted some global superstars.

It is therefore not surprising that top athletes have voiced their displeasure over the poor arrangement of the African Championships with others already pulling out while some have threatened an exit.

Ivorian sprinter Marie-Josee Ta Lou-Smith was the first to express her dissatisfaction on Friday when she fumed at the poor travel arrangement she was subjected to, alongside her team.

“My team have to take a yango (taxi) to go to the stadium because the transportation sucks,” Ta Lou-Smith posted on social media in a series of tweets complaining about the situation.

“I am hurt and disappointed. There is so much I wanted to say about the organisation of the African championship.

“I want to cry because why? And on top of that, we on the taxi we see another African team with a police escort. Like why not do it for everybody?”

Shortly after, Botswana sprinter Letsile Tebogo also hit out at the organisers for subjecting athletes to poor conditions while threatening not to run the final if things do not change.

"We'll see about the final because there's a lot of disorganised stuff, so maybe I'm going to run or I'm not going to run," said Tebogo.

"You do warm up, you stay one hour to be called, we know that time is money in athletics. You can't do warm-up sit and then be called.”

South African sprinter Shaun Maswanganyi joined the list of dissatisfied athletes when he left the championships over what he termed a ‘risk to his health.’

“I wish I were exaggerating when I say my health is at risk, as there is hardly any accommodation for my allergies. I can only imagine what other athletes are experiencing, from sharing beds to food-related problems. Additionally, transport has been a significant issue,” Maswanganyi narrated on social media.

“That being said, I booked my flight this morning, and I’m currently typing this at the airport. I vlogged the whole meet, so I’ll be posting on my YouTube channel soon. If we don’t look out for ourselves as athletes, no one else will.”

The series of mishaps have overshadowed the action on the track and the Malboum Kalkaba-led Confederation of African Athletics has a lot of explaining to do.

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