The Durban-based Cliff Chinnasamy who is the trainer of the reigning Comrades Marathon, Stephen Muzhingi told Radio VOP that the sports bodies must not only welcome the athletes when they become champions but make them winners.
“There are many athletics bodies in Zimbabwe but what are they doing for athletes?” asked Chinnasamy who said the country failed to simply buy an air ticket for Muzhingi to come to Zimbabwe and parade the Comrades Marathon trophy in Harare like what every other past winners from other countries do.
Muzhingi won the Comrades for the second year running early this year but like other high achievers he was never recognised.
In the past other athletes such as Kristy Coventry who got a diplomatic passport and US$ 50 000 from President Robert Mugabe and the Black brothers Byron and Wayne have been recognised.
Just a few days ago President Mugabe handed USS$ 300 000 to Munyaradzi Chidzonga, Zimbabwe’s second place winner of the M Net sponsored Big Brother Show.
However Muzhingi who has defied all odds from Operation Murambatsvina to enormous personal struggles to become the two time Comrades Marathon champion never got even a mere mention of his achievements.
“The athletics bodies must not wait to embrace champions but must make champions like Muzhingi. Athletics were very strong in Zimbabwe but I don’t know what happened but the government must put money into the sport,” said Chinnasamy. “The Zimbabweans must wake up and smell the coffee.”
Muzhingi who is due back home next week is now a proud owner of a car and a house.