By Thathe Msimango
Murray & Roberts Running Club athletics manager Rene Kalmer says she is devastated that the club will officially be closed at the end of the month.
Since its inception in 2019, Murray & Roberts has been home to some of the country’s leading elite athletes. But since the engineering company reported financial woes, it was announced that they could not continue to financially support athletes.
Ín January, they announced that the sponsor would fund monthly retainers for elite athletes plus travelling costs to races until June. But Kalmer said they were optimistic a new sponsor would dive in.
“It is quite sad that Murray & Roberts is struggling as a company and now is forced to end the sponsorship into the club. Not a good thing as most of the athletes were relying on it to feed their families,” Kalmer told Scrolla.Africa.
“We have a pool of talented athletes in our squad who had hoped that something positive would reveal itself but it hasn’t been the case. It is very hard to get a sponsorship in the country, especially in athletics as it is fighting with football, rugby and cricket, which are sports with a big following.”
Among the athletes who have to start to look for new homes is former SA 10 km champion Kesa Molotsane. The Free State-born athlete has been part of the club since inception.
“I don’t know what to say or feel at the moment. This is quite a sad and disappointing day in the athletics circuits in the country,” said Molotsane.
“Our club had a balance from short to long distances. To see it going down like this is not something so easy to digest. I feel for athletes who have been depending on monthly retainers because they won’t have an income anymore. We have to be strong and accept it.”
With Yolande Maclean preparing for the Comrades Marathon, the closure of the club means she has to fund her own travelling costs and accommodation in order to be on the start line come 11 June. Maclean has nine Comrades gold medals and last year obtained 10th spot in a time of 07:00:19.
“I must find the means to pay for transport costs and accommodation in order to compete in this year’s Comrades Marathon. So that is how badly it has affected me to see the club closed down. It is part of life and you can’t blame anyone. The best thing is to concentrate on running with the idea that a good opportunity will come,” she said.
Image above: Kesa Molotsane
Image source: Facebook