Zimbabwe athletes denied cash after using wrong route

Bakang Mhaladi

Gaborone – Zimbabwe’s leading long distance runners, Tabitha Tsatsa and Samukeliso Moyo were left disappointed after the organisers of a 42km marathon disqualified them for using a wrong route.   

However, the two athletes argue the route was poorly marked and several other athletes got lost along the way in the inaugural Gaborone Mayor’s marathon.

As a result, the duo felt cheated of a combined P70, 000 as Tsatsa had arrived at the finishing line first, while Moyo was third. The first prize was $5000 (P50,000) while the third prize carried $2,000 (P20, 000).

The organisers tried to resolve the matter after offering both athletes P10,000 each, which the Zimbabwean runners flatly rejected. “Why are we supposed to take P10,000 each? We did not cheat, if anything, we ran more than the required 42km. The route was poorly marked and that is not our fault,” the seasoned Moyo told The Southern Times.

Moyo said the few marshals along the route did not help matters as they directed athletes the wrong way.

“We were forced to ask (directions) from the police manning traffic lights along the way. They too did not know the proper route. So how is that our fault. If anything we ran more than the stipulated distance,” Moyo said.

“They argue that we did not pass certain areas along the route where we were supposed to be registered. We asked them to provide proof that other runners were being registered as they passed the point, and they failed to do so.”

Tsatsa who had finished first, also said she did not see the reason why they should share P20, 000, instead of being given what belongs to them.

“We cannot share the money without any valid reason. We need the truth to come out. We feel cheated. When we complained we were told “go back to Zimbabwe”.

“The officials instructed us to take the money, or leave. We wanted to see the (Gaborone) Mayor over this issue, but we were told he was in a meeting,” Tsatsa said.

She added it was not their fault that they missed the route, as it was not properly marked or sufficiently manned.

The Zimbabwe record holder said it was not the first time they had been rudely treated at the hands of the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA).

Tsatsa said in 2014, they participated in the Selebi-Phikwe marathon, but up to now, are yet to receive their cash.

BAA spokesperson, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba said he was unaware of the identity of officials who mistreated the runners.

However, he said he agreed with the arrangement of the two runners splitting P20,000 as a way of settling the dispute.

“Sharing the money is the only way to resolve the matter since the runners got lost along the way. There is no how they can take the full prize money whereas they failed to get the right route,” Ramatshaba insisted.

But the runners have said they will not take the matter lying down and would escalate it to senior relevant authorities. The two left Gaborone for South Africa on Monday, to compete in another race.

September 2017
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