Willy Mnangat Responds to Allegations of Allowing Chinese Runner to Win Marathon: ‘I Was Just a Pacemaker Helping a Friend’

Written by on 16 April 2024

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 16- Kenyan runner Willy Mnangat has issued a response to an inquiry into claims that he deliberately allowed the Chinese athlete to win the Beijing Half Marathon.

Mnangat explained to investigators that his purpose in the race was not for victory but rather to act as a pacemaker for Chinese runner He Jie, who ultimately emerged as the winner.

According to BBC reports, Mnangat clarified to race organizers that he, along with two others, one of whom did not finish the race, were specifically hired to support Jie in breaking the national record.

“I wasn’t there to compete. It wasn’t a race for me. My role was to set the pace and aid in securing the win for him, but unfortunately, he didn’t achieve the goal of breaking the national record,” Mnangat stated.

Mnangat questioned why his name was displayed on his bib instead of being identified as a pacemaker. “I’m unsure why they listed my name on my bib instead of labeling it as a pacemaker.”

Immediately after the race, Mnangat disclosed that he intentionally allowed Jie to win due to their longstanding friendship.

“He visited Kenya, and I paced for him in the Wuxi Marathon, so he’s my friend,” Mnangat remarked. Jie won with a time of 1:03.44, falling short of the record by one minute and 11 seconds, while Mnangat, Keter, and Hailu finished in a tie for second place.

The other two implicated athletes have yet to respond to the accusations.

A widely circulated video on social media platforms showed Mnangat, Rober Keter, and Ethiopia’s Dejene Hailu Bikila deliberately slowing down as they approached the finish line, allowing Jie to take the lead and secure first place.

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