ETHIOPIAN Sisay Lemma was not allowed to receive his London Marathon winners’ trophy due to strict Covid rules – so sent along his OAP agent instead.
Lemma won the 41st staging of the men’s London Marathon elite race in a time of 2:04:01.
But the 30-year-old was whisked off back to the team hotel at the De Vere Beaumont Estate in Old Windsor because he had come in close contact with a positive coronavirus case over the past few days.
Fellow countryman Kinde Atanaw, the 2019 Valencia Marathon champion, was booted out of the field after contracting the virus on Friday afternoon.
Atanaw was one of a group of 40 athletes and coaches who travelled to London on a private charter flight from Kenya and Ethiopia.
Lemma was permitted to race the 26.2 miles between Greenwich and Westminster after providing a negative PCR test.
But strangely he was not allowed to stand on the presentation stage with runner-up Vincent Kipchumba and Ethiopian third place Mosinet Geremew.
It meant there was this bizarre sight of his agent Gianni Demadonna, 67, a former cross-country runner, having to receive the trophy and flowers on the podium.
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Let’s hope in, say, 100 years’ time someone doesn’t look at that photo and think Demadonna was the race winner not Lemma!
A London Marathon statement said: “Sisay Lemma, winner of the men’s race in 2:04:01, will not be at the presentations and has left to return to the elite hotel as a precautionary measure, along with two other athletes closest to Kinde Atanaw.
“As announced last night, Atanaw failed a Covid-19 test and was withdrawn from the race.
“Following contact tracing, all other athletes had been cleared to race.
“Lemma and the two other athletes tested negative in daily rapid molecular Covid-19 tests this morning prior to the race.”
Event director Hugh Brasher said: “We’re so sorry that Kinde Atanaw is not able to race.
“We are extremely grateful for the expert support of the UK Health Security Agency during this process and the planning for the event.
“Our absolute priority has been the safety and wellbeing of every athlete, coach, manager and staff member.”
Lemma was also hit in the pocket and missed out on a $25,000 time bonus for showboating down The Mall – had he broken the time of 2:04:00 rather than wave to the crowd he would have received the extra cash from organisers.
Kenya's Joyciline Jepkosgei won the women's elite race in a time 1.17.43, ahead of Ethiopia's Degitu Azimeraw.
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