NATIONAL Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president Tendai Tagara says they are happy to see long-distance runner Isaac Mpofu going to the upcoming World Athletics Championships after their appeal to have his time from the Durban International Marathon reinstated.
Mpofu was left shattered last month when he was disqualified after winning the Durban International Marathon in KwaZulu Natal.
The Zimbabwean runner was disqualified soon after the race for failing to wear a second bib at the back displaying a second licence number. He was wearing a front bib only.
Mpofu was the first to cross the finish line in 2hours 10minutes 24seconds, a qualifying time for the World Championships.
The men’s marathon qualifying time is 2hours 11minutes 30seconds.
However, his qualification was left hanging in balance after his disqualification.
But NAAZ appealed to Athletics South Africa (ASA), who disqualified the athlete, so that he could get his time to compete at next month’s World Athletics Championships in the United States and they won the appeal.
Tagara said their priority was to assist the athlete have his time reinstated so that he competes at the world meet.
“We appealed to ASA and he was given his time. But we were copying World Athletics board during the whole process, that’s the requirement.
“I am happy he is going to the World Championships that is critical for him, doors will open, he will get sponsors . . . Isaac’s performance, he will get appearance fee at big races after going to the World Championships . . . So let’s look at the bigger picture for him,” said Tagara.
Mpofu forfeited the R50 000 winner’s prize money for the race in Durban.
“As an association we felt that we must be very diplomatic in dealing with the issue because remember all our athletes earn a living through running in South Africa.
“So as a president I felt that I should never make a mistake of antagonising Athletics South Africa.
“That was an incident we felt that no, it just has to pass, let’s negotiate for the best package for the athlete, anything else we are not interested.
“Remember what is critical is for Mpofu to qualify for the World Championships because he will get more than R50 000.
“He is on a scholarship. We want to make sure that those who gave him a scholarship will also appreciate that he is able to hit times, so that people know that the decision we took to give him a scholarship was worth it.
“So we want to create a good relationship (with ASA) so that our athletes are well handled in South Africa when they go there. They will still get a lot of money, these incidents happen in athletics,” said Tagara.
It’s now less than a month before the world meet begins and the Bulawayo-based runner is expected to shift his training base to Harare soon for his final preparations.
“He will be moving to Harare until he departs to work with other athletes for speed and everything,” said Tagara.
The World Championships are scheduled to run from July 15 to 24 at Eugene in Oregon, United States.*_-Herald_*


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