Free State athletes who perform well in this year’s Free State O.R. Tambo Marathon could receive a golden opportunity in the form of additional financial incentives. At the launch of the marathon on Wednesday, 13 September, Mathabo Leeto, Free State MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, said the province was banking on local athletes to raise the bar. She said the best-performing local athletes were offered additional financial incentives.The marathon will for the first time be in line with the standards of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Leeto said Free State athletes should stake their claim, not only as participants, but as winners, to further raise the level of athletics in the province.The Free State was once a household name in marathon circles, thanks to prominent figures such as Xolile Yawa. Yawa is considered one of the greatest athletes in South African athletic history. Yawa set a record time in the 15 km (43:02) which has only been beaten three times since, and by no more than four seconds.The prize money for the Free State O.R. Tambo Marathon over 42,2 km ranges from R1 000 to R80 000 for individual winners in the different categories. First-position male and female winners are guaranteed R80 000 prize money, while the rest of the top-ten winners take home prizes ranging from R8 000 to R60 000. For the 21,1 km half-marathon, the winner (man and woman) will win R30 000, while the top-ten finishers will go home with prizes ranging from R1 000 to R20 000. The 10 km-winners (both genders) will pocket R15 000, while the top five winners will receive prizes ranging from R3 000 to R12 000.The marathon will be hosted on 15 October in collaboration with the Free State Sports Confederation, Free State Athletics, Mangaung Athletics and the Pamoja Athletics Club. It will start and finish at the Mangaung Athletics Stadium in Bloemfontein.