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  • Thathe Msimango

Mbambani hits back at organisers of 50km World Champs in Gqeberha saying EPA know nothing about it

On Wednesday the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) announced that 2023 IAU 50km World Championships will take place in Gqeberha, South Africa. History was made as it would the first time that an IAU event would take place on the African continent. But Eastern Province Athletics (EPA) which was named as the host province, is unhappy with the protocols followed by those who used their province to apply for hosting rights without their knowledge, saying they do not recognize the event.

Speaking to #TheTopRunner, EPA sponsorship manager Mike Mbambani believes that Sportsvendo owes them any explanation on how they applied for the event without permission from the host city. Sportsvendo, which is a sports event marketing and sponsorship company headed up by Leon Swanepoel, are thought to have got the nod to organize the event on behalf of Athletics South Africa (ASA). But Mbambani who was part of the team that put on the successful Nedbank Runified 50km World Record attempt back in May, says there were not even included in the bid process and were shocked to hear the news in the media.


The IAU announced Gqeberha as their host city for the 2023 50km World Championships. Photo Credit: IAU.

"I don't know anything about the event if I can tell you. I only heard it from the news just like everyone. In fact as a province, we are not part of the event," said Mbambani during a telephonic Interview.


"The person to give you a better explanation is Leon (Swanepoel) and Norrie Williamson because they are the guys behind the whole of this event. We still waiting to hear from them on how they went ahead to file a bid to host an event without our understanding? From my side, I'm busy with Nedbank Runfied 50km Race as I was in Johannesburg yesterday (Wednesday) to meet up with Nick Bester. I've got no information regarding the event you talking about," he said.

Mike Mbambani posing with Nick Bester ahead of the Nedbank Runified 50km World Record attempt which took place in Gqeberha in May. Mbambani is furious that a bid to host the IAU 50km World Championships without EPA's knowledge. Photo Credit: Mike Mbambani.

When Swanepoel was contacted for comment, he referred the matter to the sport's governing body saying he had engaged with them before filing the bid to IAU. ASA President James Moloi provided some clarity stating they never engaged with those host cities they included in the bid because they needed approval from the IAU before starting negotiations.

"He is telling the truth (Mike Mbambani) when he is saying they don't know anything about the event," explained Moloi. "In our bid, we submitted Gqeberha and Western Cape as the two places we want to use to host the event then they opted for Gqeberha. But we were not going to notify the cities at first that we want to host the event without having won the bid. Now, things have been approved then we can start to engage with them. Remember, this is an international event and it's going to be fully funded by us and we don't want any sponsorship from the host city. For them, it's part of the tourism and will create a lot of jobs," he concluded

The event is set to take place on the 28th of May 2023.

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