Friday, June 14, 2024

3 African runners seen letting Chinese runner win Beijing half marathon by 1 sec

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Video clips of the finish of the Beijing half marathon on Sunday showed three African runners apparently letting China’s He Jie, 25, win.

Footage of April 14’s race clearly showed Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat from Kenya, as well as Dejene Hailu from Ethiopia, making the final dash to the finish line with Chinese runner He keeping pace just ahead of them, AFP reported.

What video showed

The three African runners appeared to slow down, while pointing to the finish line.

They also looked like they were waving He, who was the 2023 Asian Games marathon gold medallist, out in front.

The Chinese runner eventually won by 1 second.

The African runners did not appear to put up a fight.

The four runners spent the entire course of just over 21km together, a broadcaster noted.

The Chinese runner won gold, while the other three Africans won joint silver.

Investigation launched

The race outcome has not only raised the eyebrows of spectators.

A person from the Beijing Sports Bureau, as well as the event’s organiser, the Beijing Sports Competition Management and International Exchange Center, said an investigation has been launched, AFP also reported.

The authorities are well aware of the clip.

“We are aware of the footage circulating online from the Beijing Half Marathon and understand an investigation is currently being conducted by the relevant local authorities,” World Athletics said.

“The integrity of our sport is the highest priority at World Athletics. While this investigation is ongoing we are unable to provide further comment.”

Chinese social media site Weibo lit up with many slamming the African runners, as well as commenting that the behaviour of the athletes have thrown the race and sport into disrepute, comparing it to football bribery.

“This will certainly be the most embarrassing championship in He Jie’s career,” a commenter wrote.

Kenyan runner: Chinese runner a friend

Kenyan runner Mnangat has since come out to clarify that he let He win by choice by explaining that he did it “because he is my friend”, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

Pressed by SCMP if he had let He win, Mnangat said “yes”.

He said: “He comes to Kenya and I was [pacing for him] in the Wuxi Marathon, so he is my friend, okay.”

He’s time of time of 2:06:57 in Wuxi in March 2024 was a national record.

Mnangat also said no one told him to let He win and he did not receive a financial reward for doing so.

However, six hours later, Mnangat changed his tune, saying he was a pacemaker.

But it was pointed out that his bib did not say “pace” but was the same as He’s, which makes them competitors.

Those who disagreed with the Kenyan’s characterisation of his role rebutted him by saying that letting a fellow runner win did not make sense as the prize money for winning races was sometimes barely enough to cover costs.

Top photo via @whyyoutouzhele X

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