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"Soweto Marathon belongs to us"- athletes

The athletes fall under the Concerned Soweto Athletics Clubs and Athletes and they had a meeting in Soweto on Sunday to discuss the matter. The body received a mandate from the athletes to reclaim custody of the race.

The gathering was also attended by councillors and other residents of Soweto.

Spokesperson Stan Itshegetseng confirmed in a statement that they have started a process of reclaiming ownership of the Soweto Marathon.

“We are going to make a very strong representation to ASA in the new year for them to hand over the race to the community of Soweto,” Itshegetseng said.

“The meeting on Sunday was well attended and our councillors and sport-loving people of Soweto are behind our cause.”

He said they were concerned that the Soweto Marathon has deviated from its original mission of serving as a vehicle to develop athletics in the township.

“Instead, the race is now being used by ASA solely as a cash cow with no regard at all for creating opportunities for Soweto youths to participate in athletics,” Itshegetseng said.

“We had enough of this and we want to put the record straight. The Soweto Marathon belongs to the community of Soweto and nobody else. All sorts of people are busy making senseless claims of ownership of this race but they don’t have the slightest clue as to how the race originated, by whom and for what purpose.”

He said the race was established by the former Transvaal Amateur Athletics Congress as a self-help, community-based project.

People like Banele Sindani, Leonard Chuene, Thulani Sibisi and then Sowetan Sports Editor Horatio Motjuwadi were among the people at the forefront of its formation. “Its purpose was also to identify road running talent among boys and girls in Soweto but we are not fulfilling that goal because the race has been taken away from us,” Itshegetseng said.

ASA president James Evans agreed with the concerned group that the race was not benefiting the people of Soweto, blaming politics at some of the athletics clubs in the township.

“There are people out there who want to benefit financially from the race and this is wrong. They are fighting us instead of working with us to benefit people of Soweto,” Evans said.

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