The coronavirus pandemic is going to have long lasting effects on the livelihoods of many athletes across the globe.

Three-time Comrades Marathon winner and Two Oceans Marathon defending champion Bong’musa Mthembu is already counting his losses due to the cancellation of events.

The South Africa road runner was due to defend his Two Oceans Marathon title this Saturday. It was called off due to the pandemic.

Mthembu says he will have to wait until next year to defend the title.

“As an athlete I am so affected. I was preparing for the last four – five months. Since this is happening, we have to respect our government. For me to keep myself fit, it is very important to stay in my diet and not do a lot of things because we know that this week I was going to run the Two Oceans.”

Mthembu was also due to participate in the World 100 kilometres Championship in the Netherlands in September.

In the video below, Mthembu wins the 2018 Comrades Marathon:

Bricklayer

The 26-year-old from the Bulwer village in KwaZulu-Natal worked as a bricklayer before focusing his energy on road running.

His first taste of success was in 2005, when he won Maritzburg Marathon. That encouraged him to illustrious events. He made a name for himself in 2014 when he won the Ultimate Human Race, the Comrades Marathon, for the first time.

Mthembu would again make headlines by again winning the Comrades marathon in 2017 and 2018. He boasts a total of eight Comrades Marathon gold medals for finishing in the top 10.

Below is an interview after  with Mthembu after winning the Two Oceans Marathon:

Livelihood

Mthembu is one of those, who have been hit hard by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. He says road running is his livelihood.

“This is what I do for a living, every time when I wake up I think about running. We are devastated, but the most important thing now is our lives because this thing is all-over the world. But with the credit to God, I am still surviving. I am still able to support my family and I’m hoping I will still be able to support my family in these conditions.”

There is still uncertainty on the status of the 2020 Comrades Marathon. The event is scheduled to take place on June 14 and is going ahead for now.

However, the Comrades Marathon Association will make its final decision on April 17, the day things are supposed to return to normal in South Africa.

Mthembu hopes the events can still be staged this year.

“As things go by, you can see that there are so limited chances that we can have comrades on the set date around June. We will see but I’m hoping that they will not cancel it like the two-oceans. They will look at the situation and work together with government and our federation and maybe postpone instead of totally cancelling. They must postpone it to maybe to early September or last week of August because we can still run ultra-marathon around those times.”

In the audio below, Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa slams Comrades organisers after they said they would continue with plans to stage the marathon until further notice:

Below is an infographic of COVID-19 amended rules: