The recently concluded annual Shokonowa Training Academy 21-kilometre half-marathon in Oshakato has left a sting in the tail.
A significant chunk of long-distance runners who competed in the road race at Oshakati have now come out with guns blazing.
The aggrieved athletes are accusing the chief organiser of the event, Gabriel Shokonawa, of playing truant after his failure to pay out the promised winning prizes upon completion of the race.
Athletes were promised prize money ranging between N$150 and N$600 for winning the 2km, 5km and 10km road races. However, each winner from their respective categories walked away with only between N$80 and N$150.
The disgruntled athletes say only one athlete is said to have walked away with his full winnings after he took the bold step to confront Shokonawa. The latter also doubles up as the sole owner of the Gabriel Shokonawa Training Academy.
It is further alleged that Shokonawa had to retrieve money already paid to his own academy’s athletes to settle outstanding dues to aggrieved participants.
Amongst other displeasures registered by aggrieved athletes were the absence of marshals, timekeepers and the unavailability of water points, amongst a horde of complaints.
Participants were made to cough up entry fees between N$10 and N$100 for registration, depending on categories, which went along with the N$15 000 sponsorship from the Governor of Oshana Region, Clemens Kashuupulwa.
Approached for comment, Shokanawa vehemently denied any wrongdoing, saying the only athletes complaining about their promised winnings were those in the veteran category.
“We ran out of money because we did not plan for them and that is why we ended up giving them what we could afford,” Shokonawa insisted.
According to the often controversial self-proclaimed long-distance runner, the veteran category was not budgeted for from the onset.
Shokonawa further claimed the marathon was only meant for athletes from his own stable, adding that uninvited runners essentially gate-crashed the event.
Sources present at the marathon said the unpleasantries started when athletes demanded to be paid in full their rightful winnings shortly upon completion of the race.
“Contrary to Shakonawa’s claim, the agitated athletes were repeatedly assured they would receive prize money later, a promise that never materialized,” disclosed the source.
Quizzed to shed light on the issue, Kashuupulwa said he was out of the country at the time of the race, but was informed that everything went well without any hiccups.
In contrast, the governor admitted that deliberations with Shokanawa indicated that the race would be open for athletes from outside the academy including from adjacent regions.
He added that his decision to sponsor the event was aimed at motivating athletes in the Oshana Region to participate in sports since he felt the volume of participation in various sporting activities was lagging behind.
Kashuupulwa promised to investigate whether there is sufficient substance in the grievances before deciding whether remedial measures should be applied.