Russian twins to miss 2016 Comrades

2016-05-25 06:00
PHOTO: supplied Russian twins, Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva, won’t be running in this year’s Comrades Marathon.

PHOTO: supplied Russian twins, Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva, won’t be running in this year’s Comrades Marathon.

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AT first it sounded like an April Fool’s joke, but it is official, the Russian twins, Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva, won’t be running this year’s Comrades Marathon.

Speaking to Echo this week, Olesya said they were disappointed and devastated about not being able to take part in the Pietermaritzburg to Durban ultra-marathon.

She feels it is unfair for the world athletics governing body, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), to suspend athletes from Russia and blamed politics for this.

“I think it’s politics that is taking place around the world. Many years ago there used to be weapons and differences to fight battles, but now are using sport. We are all heartbroken because by suspending Russia means about 4 000 athletes from our country are affected, unfortunately we are on the same list. It is really unfair,” she said.

She said however, they will take the Russian suspension bravely.

“For a long time, our lives has been about coming to South African and running Comrades. We take it as a holiday this time around, and Russia is a beautiful country and there are lots of other races we can run here. We are also spending time with our parents and doing a bit of farming.

“We are going to miss South Africa and the interesting route between Maritzburg and Durban. We made a lot of friends there and we love South Africa and people just love us. Please tell them we love them.”

The sisters hope to be back next year.

Comrades is on 29 May, starting at 5am from Pietermaritzburg’s City Hall.

The Russian situation was confirmed some months ago, when the International Association of Athletics Federations provisionally suspended the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) as an IAAF member with immediate effect. The decision was taken during the 201st IAAF council meeting which was held by teleconference and chaired from London by IAAF president, Sebastian Coe.

A total of 24 council members took part in the meeting - 22 voted in favour of the sanction against ARAF, one voted against and the Russian council member was not eligible to vote.

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