Family death was kept from Comrades medallist

2008-06-16 00:00

Family kept the news of Willie Mtolo’s sister-in-law’s death two days before the Comrades Marathon from him, so the gold medallist could have a successful race.

Mtolo, who came 10th, said he was deeply saddened by the news of his sister-in-law Ntombi Mshlungu’s death.

“She had been sick for some time, but she phoned me a few days before my race and told me that she was feeling good. I thought she was okay,” he said.

Mshlungu worked at the Mtolos’ family butchery in Sweetwaters and will be mourned by all those who knew her, especially by her husband and children. Her funeral will be held in Zululand over the weekend.

Mtolo said he was grateful that his family kept the news from him until after the race.

“I would have run even if I found out sooner, but my performance may have been affected because of feelings of disappointment,” he said.

“It seems like every time I have to run something goes wrong,” said the athlete, who lambasted his sponsor, Mr Price, at the finish of the race for not taking proper care of him.

He said they did not give him any kit, they also did not organise a proper seconding for refreshments along the race, or even provide him with a retainer while he was preparing for the race.

Mtolo said he jogged a little yesterday morning, but will take a month off so that his body can recover properly before starting his training for the Durban to Kokstad to Johannesburg marathon later this year.

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