Malawi’s long-distance runner, Henry Moyo, travelled to South Africa two months ago for the Two Oceans Marathon but returned home without competing in the race.
This means that time and resources invested in his preparations for the March 31 race went down the drain.
Old Mutual Malawi alone parted with K700,000 for Moyo’s preparations for the 56-kilometre ultra-marathon which took place in Cape Town.
Last week, Moyo said he failed to compete in the marathon due to communication breakdown between his former sponsor, Nedbank, and his new financier, Mr Price.
“Nedbank were supposed to clear me to run for my new sponsor, Mr Price. But this did not happen; hence, the failure by Mr Price to register my name for the competition. I am really sorry for what happened. I personally extended my apologies to Old Mutual,” he said.
The apology was also extended to Moyo’s employer, Malawi Police Service, by the runner’s South Africa-based Manager, Dewald Steyn.
In his letter, Steyn said Moyo joined Mr Price because Nedbank did not enter him in the competition two years before as required.
“Entering the marathon needs to be done very long before the race. When you do your planning, you need to confirm with your club that they entered you. Personally, I have nothing to do with the clubs and they personally communicate with the athletes,” Steyn wrote.
He said Moyo had been assured by Mr Price that they would enter him, but the company later decided not to do so because there was no clearance letter from Nedbank.
“Henry had no contract with Nedbank. Mr Price never communicated with either Henry or Nedbank in this regard, and never told him in advance that he was not entered.
“Even after closure of the entries, up to a certain stage, clubs could still get athletes entered if they missed it. I was also not aware of this whole matter,” Steyn stated.
But Nedbank’s Senior Communications Manager, Joanne Isaacs, said Moyo is not a member of the Nedbank Running Club, and has not been for the last three years.
“As such, the Nedbank Running Club cannot issue a clearance letter for an athlete who is not a member of the
club. He is free to join any club of his choice. That club must then get a clearance letter from Malawi’s athletics federation and then send it to ASA [Athletics South Africa],” Isaacs said in an e-mailed response from South Africa.
Mr Price Sports Marketing Coordinator, Cuan Walker, said Moyo ran for the Maxed Elite team last year but did not perform in any of the races the team assisted him with, and was informed in December 2017 that the company could not assist him any further.
“We flew him to Cape Town last year for the Two Oceans 56km and he finished in 6:26:06 in position 6160, over three hours behind the winner. He then said that he was sick and this was his reason for not performing.
“We then entered him for the Comrades Marathon last year and provided him with a hotel etc. He did not come down to Durban for the race and did not notify us as to why he did not come.
“We then gave him another chance to redeem himself when he ran the Umtata Heroes Marathon in December, entering him and giving him accommodation. He finished in 4:14:52 almost two hours behind the winner. It was after this race that we told him that we could not assist him anymore,” Walker said in an e-mailed response.
He, however, said Mr Price had entered him for this year’s Two Oceans and Comrades marathons but did tell him that the company could not assist him with travel or hotel accommodation because he was not performing anymore.
Moyo is 29th on the list of athletes entered by Mr Price with TN8LJJ23CP as his voucher number.
Old Mutual Malawi Marketing and Communications Manager, Patience Chatsika, said the company accepted the apology and appreciates that circumstances were beyond Moyo’s control.
“We listened to his explanation on why he failed to run and we appreciate the fact that he saw it fit to tell us his side of the story. From what he told us, it seems circumstances were beyond his control and we accept his apology.
“As regards our support for his future endeavours, we will be looking at each request separately and analyse it before making a commitment,” she said.
Athletics Association of Malawi General Secretary, Frank Chitembeya, expressed ignorance about Moyo’s apology to Old Mutual, saying the runner did not involve the association in his dealings with the company.
Chitembeya said the association’s Executive Committee met to deliberate on the matter and agreed to investigate by contacting the competition’s organisers and Moyo’s manager.
“We are also interested in knowing what actually happened for Moyo not to run in South Africa after he camped there for two months ahead of the competition. We would not want to spoil our name by backing him when we do not have the facts,” he said.
Chitembeya said registration of athletes for such big competitions is done over a period of time and organisers take time to notify concerned parties about any changes ahead of time.
Moyo, 42, has won several races in South Africa and went on to clinch gold in the 2005 Kuala Lumpur Marathon in Malaysia but was stripped of the title after reportedly testing positive for a banned substance.
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