By Hope Nda
Orange Cameroon has, for the first time, become the official sponsor of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope, after signing an agreement with the Cameroon Athletics Federation to sponsor the race for two years.
The information was disclosed to journalists at a press conference in Buea on Wednesday, February 1, during which the Athletics Federation President, Motombi Mbome, promised an increase in cash prizes for athletes beginning next year.
Although he did not say how much will be added to the winning prizes next year, Motombi affirmed that no taxes will be deducted from the athletes’ cash prizes.
In previous editions of the race, 11 percent of athletes’ prizes were deducted as taxes, but instead, this amount will be added to them, he promised.
The Athletics Federation President said this year’s race, which has been planned for February 25, will be exceptional, as it marks 50 years since the competition started in 1973.
Then, the race champion went home with a cash prize of FCFA 30,000. But today, the winner goes home with FCFA 10 million.
“The Athletics Federation is coming this time to celebrate the 50th edition of the Mount Cameroon Race. It started Mount Cameroon Race and 28 years ago, it was co-named Mount Cameroon Race of Hope. We actually came this time to make a difference because we are into a very new mandate…,” said Motombi, who was re-elected in December as President of the Cameroon Athletics Federation.
“For now I think we are going to have more than 12 countries. Actually about five other countries called. We are just waiting on the list of the athletes they have to send here, but I want to promise you next year we are going to increase the prizes,” he added.
The golden jubilee of the Mount Cameroon Race will be holding under the theme, “Let’s give peace a chance”, and the Athletics Federation is working with the local organising committee, headed by Andrew Eteki Njoh, to mobilise the local population for the race.
Although the turnout at previous editions had been stalled by the six-year crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, stakeholders hope to make this year exceptional.
Eteki Njoh said the race will be more meticulously organised at the local level, and measures have been taken to stamp out fraud.
As such, health services for athletes, including the issuing of medical certificates, will be done by the Athletics Federation to limit the falsification of medical records. Also, Eteki and his team are putting up stiff resistance against age fraud in the junior category of the competition.
Aside from many activities that will be organised in Buea before this year’s race, Orange Cameroon will be championing a sports walk, a few days before the completion, aimed to create massive awareness and ready the population for the race.
“Orange Cameroon is all about bringing colour to this already colourful event that we are going to be witnessing throughout February. And then we’ll see the peak of it on the 25th,” said Musi Gisela Lum, Project Manager for Orange Cameroon, who attended the February 1 press conference.
She added that they will constantly animate the town of Buea during the race period and will use local musicians in some cases to promote the people’s culture.