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Filbert Sanka Bayi: Tanzania’s Greatest Athlete


Legendary Kenyan athlete Hezekiah Kipchoge “Kip” Keino had in October 1968, under searing temperatures in excessive humidity and excessive-altitude Mexico City, and in opposition to scientific advice because of his stomach illness and weak spot, received the Olympic gold medal within the 1500 meters (setting up a brand new Olympic report of 3min. 34.91sec.). Kip Keino even controlled to bag the silver medal within the 5000 meters, completing behind mythical Tunisian Mohamed Gammoudi and in advance of the 1/3 Naftali Temu, who had won the very first ever Olympic gold for Kenya by earlier triumphing in the 10000 meters. Keino had collapsed from a weak spot while competing within the 10000 meters but could upward push up and congratulate and hug his young crew-mate at the finishing line.

Compared to glorious Keino, an unknown commodity inside the person of Filbert Sanka Bayi turned into Munich to represent every other East African country–Tanzania. Keino changed into surely one of Bayi’s foremost idols and inspirations. Keino remains the most immortal name among African track athletes!

Filbert Bayi, an athlete with an “afro-coiffure” and boyish seems, had grown up close to Arusha on a farm in Karutu near Mount Kilimanjaro. Bayi left college at age 17 and migrated to the capital Dar-es-Salaam. Bayi’s early running schooling became notably crude. In the crowded, high-humidity capital, Bayi could pick out and sprint alongside a transferring bus and rest. In contrast, the bus changed into loading and unloading passengers—some form of interval training. In 1971, Bayi achieved a fairly proper 3min 52 seconds within the 1500m.


Earlier in 1972, Bayi’s personal bests and national wins inside the 1500m (three:45) and steeplechase (8 8:fifty-five) certified him to represent Tanzania at the Olympic Games in Munich.

The finals of the steeplechase were held on September seventh, 1972. Kip Keino could win in a new Olympic record of eight:23.Sixty-four, accompanied by Benjamin “Ben” Wabura Jipcho (8:24.62), and the bronze was gained by way of Tapio Kantanen (eight:24.66). Amos Biwott got here in 6th in a time of 8:33.Forty-eight.

The annual East and Central African Championships were next held in Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, without problems in Bayi’s territory. Bayi is no longer disappointing. On December 3, 1972, three months after the Olympics, Bayi became a nearby champion in the 1500m. He won in an excellent time of 3:38.Nine, not only a national record but a shaving off of greater than 5 seconds from the national report he had set up much less than three months before the Olympics. Two Kenyans, Wilson Waigwa and D. Mungai, gained the silver and bronze, respectively. Bayi changed quickly, gaining the self-belief to face even greater bold competition.


Bayi might compete once more with Keino at the second All-Africa Games, held in Lagos Ni, Nigeria, in January 1973. It might be exciting. On January 11, in a 1500m heat that covered each runner, a slow and secure run witnessed Bayi take 2d location in 3:forty eight.32, following Olympian Shibrou Regassa (Ethiopia), then Kip Keino running in 1/3. Keino turned short of mentioning that he had secured and genuinely desired to make it to the finals. Keino confident the public that the finals would be very distinct from what had happened inside the Heat. But possibly all the years of going for walks and victory had exacted a toll on the aging veteran. On January thirteenth, Filbert Bayi, taking the lead from the beginning, beat Keino, winning the finals in a commendable time of three:37.18, yet some other Tanzania national document. Shirou Regassa turned into 0.33. Notably, Bayi had suffered a about of malaria simply earlier than the Games. Henceforth, Africans and the rest of the arena started to critically examine this new Tanzanian phenomenon that had emerged from nowhere. Kipchoge Keino might have retired from aggressive sports in 1974 as an ITA (International Track Association) professional. Still, he impressed Bayi, who provided congratulations and inspiring words.

A string of wins in international opposition was observed in 1973. In Paris, near the cease of May, Bayi gained within the 1000m and hooked up an Africa report of two:19.Five. Then, in Boras in Sweden in early June, Bayi received the 1500m in a comfortable three: forty-five. Five. On the subsequent day in Strangnas, also in Sweden, Bayi won in the 1500m in three: forty-four. 6. Again in Sweden, this time in Stockholm, Bayi gained a pretty quick three:37.9 on June twelfth.

Then, on June 16, Bayi changed gears and went for the 800m in Potsdam within the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Bayi was beaten via 2-time Olympian Dieter Fromm (GDR) into the second location. However, Bayi controlled to set up a Tanzania record of 1 forty-six. Nine.

A week later, on June twenty-first, at the Kusocinski Memorial Meet held in Warsaw,, Po, land, Bayi gained in the 1500m, completing in three:37.Nine. He then flew to Denmark to participate in the Aarhus Games. Here, Bayi won the 1500m in 3:35.6, a brand new Tanzania file! Bayi turned into moving up fast and furiously! Danish Olympian Tom Hansen became 2nd, and Olympian Rolf Gysin of Switzerland changed into the third.

The next day, June twenty-ninth, in a song meet in Vasteras in Sweden, Bayi was once more the victor in the 1500m, triumphing in 3:40.7.

Only three days later, on July 5 at the Oslo International, Bayi authentic to shape, beat an impressive subject. He won in the 1500m in an excellent three:37.6. On July 19, Bayi joined Tunis to compete in the African Youth Festival Championships. Bayi received in the 1500m in three:45.Three. The second place was captured by Suleiman Nyambui, another Tanzanian who is only multiple months older than Bayi. Nyambui would remain one of Bayi’s track competitors, and he might regularly turn out to be a national sports activities icon. On July 20 fourth, at the Bislett Games held in Oslo, this time inside the 800m, Bayi became crushed into 2nd place by way of 20 12 months-vintage John George Walker of New Zealand–another of Bayi’s greater enduring historic song rivals! Walker gained in 1:46.3. Still, Bayi’s time of 1: forty six.7 was a brand new Tanzania file.


Nearly exactly 12 months after Bayi, in beating Kip Keino, had received in the 1500m in Lagos on the All-Africa Games, the very busy athlete was prepared to fulfill the brilliant middle-distance line-up at the Commonwealth of Nations Games held in Christchurch in New Zealand. Bayi would compete inside the 800m accompanied via the 1500m.

On January 19, 19,74, about a week before the Commonwealth Games, Filbert Bayi turned overwhelmed into the second vicinity in the 800m by using Kenyan Olympic bronze medallist Mike Boit. Nevertheless, Bayi became wonderful by putting off a new Tanzania document–1:46.0.

In Heat One of the real Commonwealth Games, Bayi won within the 800m in 1:47.09. This occurred on January 27, 1974. The winners of the opposite three heats, respectively, were acquainted middle-distance giants: John Kipkurgat, John Walker, and Mike Boit. The top 4 finishers of each warmness might be positioned for many of the semi-very last rounds to be held later in the day. Bayi turned into the position in the 2nd semi-final. In Semi-Final One, the top 4 finishers were advanced to the finals, and they were John Kipkurgat, Andy Carter (England), Daniel Omwanza (Kenya), and Phil Lewis (Wales). Semi-Final Two witnessed Bayi (1: forty-six. 56) boost to the finals even though he turned overwhelmed into fourth place, perhaps him relaxing and sincerely contented with qualifying for the final round. Mike Boit won in this semi-final, accompanied by using John Walker, then John Hooker (Australia).

The 1974 finals of the 1500m at the Commonwealth Games will loom inside the minds of many song fans for a long time. On February 2nd, Bayi would run his most iconic race, taking the lead. The timing at the 400m mark became 54. Four, 1:fifty one.Eight on the 800m mark and a couple of 50.4 on the 1200m mark. Bayi hooked up a new world report of 3:32.Sixteen, most effective 15 months after he had competed and emerged as a mediocre unknown at the Olympics in Munich. Given Bayi’s outstanding development over 12 months, Bayi anticipated many to break the arena report. The runners-up also performed phenomenal and leading global instances–John Walker (New Zealand country-wide record)—three:32.52; Ben Jipcho (Kenya countrywide file)—3:33.16; and Rodney Dixon (New Zealand)–three:33.89. Graham Crouch changed into fifth (3:34.22), Mike Boit became 6th (3:36.Eighty-four), and Suleiman Nyambui (3:39.Sixty two) became 8th. Jipcho’s signature spurt within the last three hundred meters did not manipulate to stave off the young, lively Walker, who turned into chasing Bayi, and Walker did close up on Bayi inside the fight for the gold. About taking the lead right from the beginning, Bayi could commentary, “I was given boxed in [at the Olympic Games of 1972 in Munich] and became by no means able to take the lead….So now I take the lead from the begin” (in “Bayi Breaks Record in 1500 Meter Race,” by AP in Rome News-Tribune, February three,1974).


After a long layoff from the international opposition, Bayi emerged in 1975 at the New Zealand Games proper in Christchurch, where he had set the world report. This time, on January 20, Bayi competed in and gained within the infrequent 3000m and in 7:53.9. Four days later, at the New Zealand Games in the identical town, Bayi earned within the 800m (1:45.49), beating 2d-placed John Walker (1:45.9) and even 800m Commonwealth Games gold medallist John Kipkurgat who became 1/3. The finals of the 800m, at an International meet in Auckland on January twenty-eighth, witnessed Walker triumphing (1:46.7) inside the 800m, Bayi racing in 2nd (1: forty-seven. Three), and John Kipkurgat beat into a disappointing 1/3 vicinity. At the give up of January, Bayi competed at the Millrose Games in New York, triumphing in the mile in his first indoor overall performance in 3:59.3.

On August twelfth, 1975, nearly three months after Bayi had barely shattered the mile world file, his principal nemesis, the 6′ 1″ tall and full-size (185 pounds, approximately 50 pounds heavier than Bayi) 23, yr-vintage New Zealander John Walker further lowered the report via a remarkable 1.6 seconds! The new record became three:49.4, the primary ever timing underneath the three:50, installed at the Goteborg Games in Germany. Bayi was not among the competitors on this world-record run. However, the margin of more than 5 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Kenneth Hall of Australia become also massive. Walker had, this year, lost three times to Bayi, instances indoors.


In 1975, John Walker would become number one with a main time of three:32.4. Bayi would be ranked second with three:35.0 this 12 months.!In 1976, Bayi again dropped down to third in ranking (3:34.Eight) in the back of John Walker (three:34:19) and Thomas Wessighage of Germany (three:34.Eighty). In 1977, Bayi was no longer on the top 10 lists. Walker turned into, nonetheless, primary, observed using Steve Ovett of Great Britain. In 1978, Bayi changed ranked international 2nd in the back of Dave Moorcroft of Great Britain, and it’d be the ultimate 12 months that Bayi might be most of the leading 1500m ten runners in the arena. This year, he lost the Commonwealth 1500m crown to the same Dave Moorcroft, Bayi prevailing the silver medal.

Among the opposite extra remarkable of Bayi’s achievements had been the silver medal in the 1500m at the Commonwealth of Nations Games held in Edmonton in 1978, the silver medal in the 3000m steeplechase (in a brand new countrywide file) at the Olympics held in Moscow in 1980 (Tanzania did now not participate in the Olympics in 1976), numerous East and Central African gold medal wins, and several African Games wins. The medals Bayi and Suleiman Nyambui gained in Moscow are the best Olympic medal wins by Tanzanians.

The starting of the brand new century witnessed Retired Major Filbert Bayi and his wife commendably setting up a foundation (Filbert Bayi Foundation) and constructing schools in Tanzania which might be supposed to faucet and expand athletic and educational talent in youngsters as a part of discipline, fitness, monetary, and usual empowerment. Bayi’s complicated lies in Mkuza, 50 miles from the capital metropolis, Dar-es-Salaam. Bayi virtually sticks out as much more than his photograph of one of the best athletes in the world.

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