Premier hails Comrades winner for putting KZN on the map

2017-07-28 14:00
Comrades marathon winner Bongmusa Mthembu attended a sitting at the KZN Legislature where he was congratulated for his win. From left: KZN Premier Willies Mchunu, Mthembu and deputy speaker of the KZN legislature Meshack Radebe.

Comrades marathon winner Bongmusa Mthembu attended a sitting at the KZN Legislature where he was congratulated for his win. From left: KZN Premier Willies Mchunu, Mthembu and deputy speaker of the KZN legislature Meshack Radebe. (Nokuthula Khanyile)

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Political leaders at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature have congratulated the winner of the 2017 Comrades marathon, Bongmusa Mthembu.

Mthembu, who attended a sitting at the legislature on Thursday, was hailed a national hero for his impressive showing at Comrades.

Accompanied by his mother, coach and the Comrades board, Mthembu was congratulated by Premier Willies Mchunu and other members of the legislature.

Mthembu crossed the finish line in a time of five hours and 35 minutes, ahead of Zim­babwean Hatiwande Nyamande in second place and defending up-run champion Gift Kelehe in third place.

Mchunu said Mthembu had made the country proud. “The Comrades Marathon is about endurance, determination and perseverance. We salute you for being an inspiration and icon in our province.”

The premier praised Mthembu for putting the province firmly on the map.

“Having a winner who hails from the province will enhance our efforts aimed at positioning the province as a sporting destination of choice.”

He urged Mthembu to help produce other black professional athletes.

“The province needs more sporting heroes and we hope you can be instrumental in training them. Our province has many young people immersed in whoonga and alcohol. Sports could be instrumental in changing that situation around.”

Mthembu, who hails from Bulwer, became the first South African to win the Comrades Marathon more than once since Bruce Fordyce in 1990.

He used the opportunity to urge government to support professional athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Being honoured here is among the highlights of my career. It’s good to know that the province is rallying behind its athletes. We appreciate the support.”

He said running Comrades was a momentous task.

“It was difficult without the necessary sponsorship. I am pleading with government to support upcoming athletes with the basics,” he said.

Mthembu said athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds were deterred from continuing because they did not qualify for sponsorship.

Chairperson of the Comrades Marathon Association Sifiso Nzuza said the board was also proud of Mthembu’s achievements.

“Our biggest wish is to see him grow as an athlete and become an ambassador for the province and the Comrades Marathon board.”

Read more on:    bongumusa mthembu  |  pietermaritzburg  |  comrades winner

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