‘So Did The Amputee Runner Get A Comrades Finisher’s Medal, Or Not?’
When the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) backtracked on a decision to award amputee runner Xolani Luvuno an official medal for finishing the iconic ultra, the running community was up in arms.
Close to 10 500 people signed a petition urging the CMA to award Luvuno a Spirit of Comrades award, while the hashtag #GiveXolaniAMedal started trending on social media and by the next Friday had reached over a million people.
Luvuno was given special permission to run the race by the CMA. He was allowed 16 hours (compared to the standard 12), after a wound on his amputated right leg left him unable to use his running blade. During his journey to Durban, he became a sensation on social media.
His running partner Hein Venter surprised Luvuno at the finish line by presenting him with one of his previous bronze Comrades medals. (In the photograph above, the pair are shown running together earlier in the race.)
On their Facebook page, the CMA confirmed that a decision had been made on race day to award Luvuno a finisher’s medal – only to release a statement on their website the following morning that “he would not be eligible to receive a finisher’s medal” because he had failed to reach the finish inside the 12-hour cut-off; though they did concede that they would find a way to recognise his achievement.