Scrapping of marathon trials causes an uproar

THE South African Marathon trials, scheduled for East London on April 24, have been cancelled, much to the disappointment of many runners.

THE South African Marathon trials, scheduled for East London on April 24, have been cancelled, much to the disappointment of many runners.

This is despite the fact that the Eastern Cape provincial government had made a solid commitment to bankroll the event.

Athletics SA interim administrator Ray Mali, who is increasingly coming under fire from various quarters in athletics, could not be reached for comment on the development.

Sowetan was referred to his assistant, Richard Stander, who said the cancellation of the trials had nothing to do with financial difficulties faced by his federation.

"In the first place, there was no need to stage the marathon trials. The marathon is not like a track and field event that is staged almost every second or third weekend," Stander said. "In the marathon, the participants usually compete two or three times a year. We felt there was no need for the marathon trials and whoever came up with the idea was wrong.

"As for the financial assistance from the Eastern Cape government, it was not adequate to pay runners prize money similar to those of events like the Soweto Marathon,"

In the past, South Africa staged its marathon championships in Durban or Port Elizabeth in February where a national team for various global events would be selected. After the appointment of an interim structure to run ASA, in February the board decided to stage the trials in East London. Their argument was that it was too late to organise the marathon championships to select teams for the African Senior Track and Field Championship and Commonwealth Games.

Former marathoner Sam Mlangeni said they were shocked by the decision to cancel the trials without engaging the athletes. "Since the Soweto Marathon in November last year, ASA has not organised any marathon and there won't be any until after the 2010 Fifa World Cup," said Mlangeni yesterday. "It is now six months of no income for marathoners."

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