CAPE TOWN – Kenyan athlete Paul Maina has pulled out of this weekend’s Sanlam Cape Town Marathon for fear he could be a victim of the recent attacks on foreigners by South Africans.
This was revealed by the athlete’s manager Craig Fry who said he has been in contact with Home Affairs officials as well as different embassies regarding the situation in the country.
“Paul has decided to rather go to run in Argentina because he did not feel safe coming to South Africa,” said Fry, the Nedbank Athletics International manager. “He had been a 50-50 case in terms of participation in the Cape Town Marathon and when all these attacks on foreigners spread, he felt he was better off running somewhere else.”
Fry was referring to the recent attacks on foreign African nationals in both Johannesburg and Pretoria.
A reminder that the Sanlam @CTMarathon takes place on Sunday 15 September. Over 23 000 participants from more than 75 countries will take to the streets to compete. For a full list of road closures and parking information click on the link below. https://t.co/nmYIB4sMRI pic.twitter.com/XihfPi1YDu— Cape Town CCID (@CapeTownCCID) September 11, 2019
Maina, according to Fry, boasts a 2:08 marathon Personal Best (PB) time - the kind that would have seen him among the contenders for the title had he made the trip.
The Nedbank Athletics manager had said earlier in the week that besides the recent spate of violence, his international contingent had been frightened by a message that had been doing the rounds on social media.
“They are saying they will burn down the airport and kill the foreign people who will be within the country. I am not sure if it is serious treat or not. I am checking with embassies in Pretoria and Home Affairs to confirm if the matter is serious. If so we will be forced to withdraw the athletes who are down to come run the FNB 10ks in Johannesburg (September 24) and Durban (October 13), because of safely reasons.”
Sanlam Cape Town Marathon ambassador Elana Meyer expressed disappointment at hearing of Maina’s withdrawal and was further saddened by the fact Fry had not gotten in touch with her.
“Craig has not informed me of this. And as far as I know, all the gold label status athletes are coming. We will have security like we always every year. Nothing has changed,” Meyer explained.
The withdrawal of athletes from the race is not surprising given that the attacks on foreign nationals has been reported far and wide. Just last week, both Zambia and Madagascar pulled out of scheduled friendly international matches against Bafana Bafana. And yesterday a number of Nigerian nationals left the country to return home as they felt unsafe.
As they bid to have their race moved up to Platinum Status, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon organisers will no doubt pull out all the stops to ensure that the foreign African brigade that will participate at the weekend are safe.