Matjeane denied prize despite winning Zuma race

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Mikia Kalati

IMGP5383Masilo Matjeane won Sunday’s inaugural Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma Marathon in KwaZulu-Natal but was later disqualified for violating international athletics regulations.

Matjeane, who clinched the High Altitude Summer Marathon in 2012, had clocked 2 hours, 19 minutes and 27 seconds to finish the race in first position and was entitled to the M50 000 winner’s prize.

However, the organisers of the race later announced Matjeane had not adhered to all the marathon’s regulations and could therefore not claim the title, which later went to Raphael Segodi of South Africa.

Lesotho’s Tamo Tlali came third in Sunday’s race and walked away with M15 000, while Makampong Letsie, also of Lesotho, was fourth in the female category and received M10 000.

Repeated attempts by the Lesotho Times to get a comment from Matjeane and the race’s organisers, were unsuccessful.

But according to former marathoner and Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association coach, Champlin Mpomane, the athlete had himself to blame for the debacle.

Mpomane said while he felt sorry for Matjeane, the runner should have known that competing without a licence or race number was unlawful.

“It’s sad that he won the race but was disqualified for failing to obey the rules of the competition,” Mpomane said.

“I’m disappointed in him because an athlete of his experience, who has competed in so many races, should know that it’s not allowed to run without a licence or race number, which is what he did in the race. He is the one to blame for the whole situation because he did not have the required licence.”

Mpomane said what happened on Sunday must be a lesson to other local runners, as this was not the first time Lesotho athletes had found themselves in such unfortunate situations.

“Mabuthile Lebopo was in a similar situation a few years ago at the Soweto Marathon after running without a permit. He won the race but was disqualified because of the licence. We then lodged a protest as the race had started before schedule and were able to submit the permit before the original time, which is why he ended up getting his prize.”

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