Nick Gordon
2 minute read
13 Jun 2014
6:00 am

Zola stripped of Comrades cash

Nick Gordon

Finishing a Comrades Marathon is special, but finishing in the top-10 of one of the world's toughest races must be one of the biggest accomplishments a long-distance runner could experience.

FILE PICTURE: Zola Budd at the finish line of the Comrades Marathon 2014 on June 01, 2014 in Durban, South Africa. The 2014 Comrades Marathon is starting at City Hall in Pietermaritzburg and finishing at The Kingsmead Cricket Stadium in Durban. Zola Budd was seventh lady overall. Picture: Gallo images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier.

When Zola Budd crossed the line in seventh earlier this month she got to experience the thrill of finishing and also earning a gold medal. Her feat also meant she was the first South African woman home and the winner of the veteran (40-49 years) age group category.

But the last achievement has been short-lived, with news emerging yesterday that Budd has been stripped of the R12 000 prize for failing to display her age category tag on her running vest, according to officials. It’s a ruling that has upset the 48-year-old and her management team a great deal.

The former Olympic 5 000m runner was issued with an international number, which has the age category tag on it. In the international final instructions it states that the age category is on the race number.

The women who were awarded the second and third places also only had an age category on their race numbers – exactly the same as Budd, according to her manager in South Africa, Ray de Vries.

“I won it fair and square – my whole athletics career has been plagued by politics and interference from administrators who are selective and do not apply the rules consistently,” Budd said from her home in the United States.

“It feels like they are targeting me specifically. Why does this rule apply to me and not to others?” she asked.

“The question is why is Zola being singled out? A mistake has been made and it needs to be rectified,” De Vries said yesterday.

“Firstly, her final instructions said the age category is on the race number on the front and back; and secondly, the athletes who were officially placed first and second were also not wearing separate tags. Rules must be applied equally and consistently,” said a furious De Vries.

De Vries added that after Budd’s perfect Comrades and huge support from the crowds along the way, she is hugely disappointed.