Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE country’s first black athlete to compete in the Olympics, Robson Mulombe, will be the star attraction at the third edition of the Agribank Binga Kasambabezi Marathon in the resort town tomorrow.
Mulombe from Binga district was one of the 29 athletes (25 men and four women) that represented the then Southern Rhodesia in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, where he competed in the marathon event and finished 56th in a time of 2 hours 49 minutes 30.8 seconds. Ethiopian Abebe Bikila came first in a then world record time of 2 hours 12 minutes 11.2 seconds, while 21 athletes failed to complete the race.
Organisers of this year’s Binga Marathon confirmed that the forgotten athletics’ hero, who turns 74 years on September 12, will be one of the key attractions where recommendations will be made for the Binga Rural District Council to name one of the many tourist attractions after him.
“We will request the RDC leadership to give the man the freedom of the district and name one of the roads of fishing camps after him and also maybe give him a permanent fishing permit,” said the organisers.
During the 1964 Games in Japan, Mulombe was confined to the Games Village and not allowed to roam around compared to his white counterparts.
He had been recommended to the South Rhodesian Olympics team by John Cheffers.
Meanwhile, a number of activities have been lined up for tomorrow’s event, whose theme is “Mitigating human, animal conflict through sporting-run to save your inheritance”.
The event will also be used to select runners for the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon on July 7.
Registration fees are $2 for those that are 15 years and under, $3 for athletes aged between 15 and 18 years, while local adults will pay $5 and non-locals double the amount.
The 2018 marathon was won by Zimbabwe National Army HQ1 Brigade (Mzilikazi) runner Leonard Koki, who crossed the finish line in 2 hours 50 minutes, followed by Brightmore Mbombo of Binga, who clocked three hours 44 minutes and 56 seconds.
There is hope that there will be an increase in the number of female athletes after only two took part in last year’s event.