Bad road stifles wheelchair athletes

MUTARE - Tanganda Half Marathon wheelchair athletes have roundly condemned the heavily-potholed race course after one of the athletes was almost ran over by a motorist as he dodged a crater.

Libangani Langa almost lost his life on a bend as he skirted around a huge pothole with motorists ignoring police signals.

“The road is bad. There are serious potholes. I was almost run over by a vehicle at a curve after the motorist failed to give way in spite of police signalling him to,” Langa said.

Langa said emergency breaking caused damage to his front tyre, which costs $50 and needs to be imported from the USA.

Another wheelchair athlete Samson Muroyiwa said the course took a heavy toll on their equipment.

“Such a course will slow us down because if you don’t slow down to negotiate the potholes… if we talk too much they will also then scrap us off future races to our disadvantage,” Muroyiwa said.

Women’s category winner Margaret Bangajena also expressed dissatisfaction with the potholed course.

“The race was good but it had so many potholes. If you are not careful you will not even finish the race,” she said.

“The nice thing about the Tanganda Half Marathon is that the prices are good and will allow us to take care of our equipment.”

Thandiwe Ndhlovu, who came second, said her time was affected badly by negotiating the potholes.

“This race slowed us down but I think the Chitungwiza race course is the worst nationally,” Ndhlovu said.

Man’s category winner Elford Moyo also expressed concern that the road was not ideal for wheelchairs.

“Wheelchairs are meant for smoother surfaces and such courses pose a huge risk to everyone even the able-bodied because they can easily twist an ankle,” Moyo said.

National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) head coach Briad Nhubu said while he sympathised with his athletes the problem of road infrastructure was not something even organisers and sponsors had much control over.

“Yes, the road had potholes but we thought that if we had not included the wheelchair category it would have been discriminatory. We thought it would have been a worse injustice,” Nhubu said.

Manicaland Athletics Board (MAB) chairperson Joshua Matume said: “We pray and hope like everyone else that our infrastructure continues to be attended to and that our corporate partners will continue to support such athletes considering the wear and tear that is clearly visible in participating on such courses.”

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