Runners baulk at R5000 first prize

A MAJOR row is brewing between Athletics South Africa and top runners after it was announced that the winner of the national half-marathon championships will pocket R5000.

A MAJOR row is brewing between Athletics South Africa and top runners after it was announced that the winner of the national half-marathon championships will pocket R5000.

The championships, financed by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, will take place at Motherwell in Port Elizabeth on July 24.

On the same day, the Foskor Half-Marathon will be run at Namakgale in Limpopo, where the first man and woman to cross the finish line will get R21000.

The ASA used to pay the winners in both categories of the national half-marathon R25000 each under the leadership of Leonard Chuene.

Chuene and his board were suspended by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee for their handling of the Caster Semenya gender verification tests.

ASA provinces have selected teams to represent them at the championships in Motherwell, in most cases without even consulting the runners.

Athletes Group deputy spokesperson Sam Mlangeni said: "It does not make sense for ASA to organise the half-marathon championships on the same day as the one in Namakgale. How do you expect a professional to compete for R5000, aware that there is another event that pays well on the same day?

"We did not have such challenges under Chuene because athletes were paid a lot. Athletes are being treated unfairly by the leadership. They got R17million from Lotto for the first quarter of the 2010 season.

"They are now saying athletes will get R50000 for the championships to break a national record. There is no way this will happen."

Top runner Hendrick Ramaala will not compete in Motherwell because of the World Cup.

ASA deputy administrator Richard Stander said: "The additional R50000 incentives were worked on the times produced by the 50th fastest athletes on last year's IAAF rankings."

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