Thursday, June 2, 2011

Marathon winner who wasn't

Prime News


Jun 3, 2011

Marathon winner who wasn't

Marathon winner who wasn't

LAST weekend's Sundown Marathon was won by runner No. E6121, who clocked 2hr 53min 15sec and beat 5,684 others to the top spot.

When the emcee announced that Nigerian Richard Habeya was the winner of the Men's Open 42km race, a 1.70m lanky African stepped up, took his place on the podium and collected the winner's cheque.

He received a crystal trophy, $500 in cash and $600 worth of New Balance vouchers.

But there was a twist. Although he had run the race and finished first, the man on the podium was not Habeya, who had registered as runner No. E6121.

Organisers discovered later that it was one Willy Kipkemoi Rotich who had competed using his friend Habeya's numbered bib. He is a 20-year-old Kenyan who had not registered to run.

They also discovered that it was not the first time he turned up on the podium using someone else's race bib. He did the same thing at the Bagiuo 21K in the Philippines in April, when he finished second.

Now the Sundown organisers have disqualified him, and shaken up the order of winners.

Moroccan Ahmad Lamchannak (3:09:11) is the newly declared champion. He is followed by Singaporeans Morgan Lim (3:16:38) and Chew Hong Ang (3:19:08).

New winner Lamchannak said yesterday: 'I'm grateful that the organisers did due diligence and checked. Whatever it is, I'm proud to be champion of the Sundown Marathon 2011.'

According to HiVelocity general manager Benjamin Wee, the race organisers were informed by a volunteer that 'Willy had said he had run using Richard Habeya's number tag'.

'The rules clearly state that no runner is to use someone else's race tag and run,' he said.

In a phone call from Malaysia, Habeya told The Straits Times that he had missed his flight and could not make the Singapore race.

He said Rotich, who was in Singapore, called him.

'Willy told me that he signed up too late and asked me if he could use my race bib,' he said. 'I told him he could, but warned him that the organisers might disqualify him.

'He said he only wanted to train and did not care about winning.'

Rotich and another Nigerian runner stayed at the home of Andrzej Niekrasz, a lawyer working here.

Niekrasz told The Straits Times that Rotich had asked the organisers for permission to wear Habeya's bib and someone named Raychele had told him it was all right.

HiVelocity confirmed that there was a volunteer named Raychele but said it was probably a miscommunication between her and Rotich.

Said Wee: 'All volunteers were briefed that no last-minute changes could be entertained.'

Lawyer Loh Lin Kok, former Singapore Athletic Association chief, said that what Rotich did could be considered cheating but he added: 'This is probably a guy who wanted to save on the race entry fee and did not expect to win.'

Rotich has been uncontactable since Sunday. HiVelocity said they would find out if he has cashed the winner's cheque today.

No comments:

Post a Comment