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Beijing Half Marathon 2024: World Athletics Gets Involved in Controversy Concerning Kenyan and Chinese Runners

Published 04/16/2024, 8:05 AM EDT

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The Beijing Half Marathon 2024 brought in a unique chance for He Jie, the Asian Games gold medalist, to make the national half marathon record just before the Paris Olympics. Eventually, the Chinese runner failed to claim that record by 1:11 minutes. That part didn’t ring a bell until World Athletics had to step in after some serious charges were made on the entire scenario. 

Furthermore, things reached unprecedented heights subsequently when He Jie’s sponsor, had to clarify their standing on the aftermath status quo. No matter what happened at the Beijing Half Marathon 2024 on Sunday, the track and field community is still finding it hard to digest. 

Did a dark day in the Beijing Half Marathon’s history come in 2024? 

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The World Athletics had to make a resolute comment after a viral clip surfaced from He Jie’s race on April 14. The clip displayed two Kenyans and one Ethiopian runner, allowing the Chinese runner to take the top spot just a few meters away from the finishing line. Eventually, the African trio kept an all-round top position throughout the race. But before the finishing line, the Kenyan runner, Willy Mnangat, waved at the chasing Joe and gestured to him to take the lead. Eventually, He Jie followed the order and gained the lead. Such an illegitimate occurrence invited World Athletics to take cognizance of the situation. 

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After going through the visuals, the top authority stated, An investigation is currently being conducted by the relevant local authorities. The integrity of our sport is the highest priority at World Athletics.” Meanwhile, the investigation World Athletics is presently banking on is from the Beijing Sports Bureau. In a statement to AFP, the Bureau said, We will announce the results to the public once they are available.” 

Meanwhile, Xstep, the brand that sponsored the Beijing Half Marathon 2024 and also shared a business link with He Jie, is keeping an eye on the entire situation to corroborate their side of the story. But what are the arguments from the stakeholders who played the actual part in Sunday’s turmoil? 

Everyone has their own comments to serve 

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From leading the pack of trio to gesturing He Jie to take the top lead, Willy Mnangat has come under scanner from Sunday’s occurrence. However, the Kenyan runner had multiple versions to share to back his deeds. His friendship with He Jie dates back to the Wuxi Marathon.

At first, when he was asked by the media whether he was helping the Chinese athlete, he said, “yes”. Mnangat stated that he was not there as a contestant. “I don’t know why they put my name on my bib/chest number instead of labelling it as a pacemaker,” he conceded. As of now, things are opaque to make a steady comment on the situation. 

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Written by:

Prasun Chakrabarty

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Prasun Chakrabarty is an Olympic Sports Writer for EssentiallySports, who specializes in covering aquatic arena events. Post his experiences with popular publications including PinkVilla, Prasun began his days in ES, by actively covering two prime events - 2023 US Open Swimming Championships and the 2024 TYR Pro Swim Series. Prasun's coverage extends beyond the pool, and he takes specific interest in the progress of the triangular rivalry between track and field stars, Sha’Carri Richardson, Shericka Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. You can follow him on:-
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar