THE first ever Commissioner General of the Police 21km Road Race to be held in Mutare made a huge impression on gender balance in sport after rewarding both male and female winners the same amounts in prize money.
Historically, participation in sports has been discriminatory, with men being favoured over women, as sport has been considered to be an ‘inappropriate’ field for women.
Even though women’s participation has grown over the years, underlying gender biases are still present in many aspects of sport.
Wage gap is one of the most overt areas of prejudice, as women remain far behind men when it comes to being paid in sports.
A popular example of this is the staggering pay gap between the 2021 highest paid players in men’s and women’s cricket in India – the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) pays Smriti Mandhana US$68 500 per annum which is seven percent of Virat Kohli’s annual income of US$952 000.
The generation of revenue is often used as an argument to legitimise the pay gap in sports.
The argument is that the returns generated by male players are higher than what women generate. While assessing the monetary benefits in sports, a few things are considered, including endorsements, sports merchandising and ticket sales, among others.
This is based on the viewership and fan base, which is, in turn, influenced by the androcentric nature of sports.
However, residents from different parts of the eastern border City of Mutare thronged Dangamvura Shopping Complex last week on Saturday for the 11th edition of the Commissioner General 21km Road Race, which also had competition categories for almost all age groups.
The country’s top medium and long distance runners were also part of the exciting event which was spiced up by the entertaining Police Band performance.
Manicaland Athletics Board chairperson, Joshua ‘Zesa’ Matume applauded the organisers of the event for promoting the interests of the girl child.
“It is encouraging that we now have sponsors and organisers of sporting events that see the importance of balancing the scales between men and women in sport.
“Organisers of the Commissioner General 21km Road Race did a good thing by ensuring that the winners for both men and women categories get the same amounts of prize money,” said Matume.
Last Saturday marked the first time that Mutare hosted the event after it was held in Harare during its first nine editions and the 10th edition was held in Bulawayo last year.
Aspiring Olympian, Isaac Mpofu added another accolade to his cabinet after winning the 2022 edition of the Old Mutual bank-rolled Commissioner General of Police 21km Road Race.
In second place was Munyaradzi Jari who crossed the finishing line in one hour, seven minutes and 45 seconds, while Ngonidzashe Ncube, who romped home in one hour, seven minutes and 45 seconds, settled for third position.
Mpofu, Jari and Ncube received $150 000, $100 000 and $75 000, respectively.
In the ladies’ category, two-time Commissioner General of Police main event winner, Olivia Chitate failed to defend her title as ZPCS’s Patience Murove snatched pole position after finishing the race in one hour, 20 minutes and 53 seconds.
In second position was Caroline Mhandu who crossed the finishing line in one hour, 21 minutes and 48 seconds ahead of third placed Chitate who clocked one hour, 23 minutes and 17 seconds.
Just like their male counterparts, Murove, Mhandu and Chitate also got the same amounts of prize money.