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Friday, June 21, 2024
<p>Courtesy Photo / Alachua County Sheriff's Office</p>

Courtesy Photo / Alachua County Sheriff's Office

The promising career of a Florida track and field athlete came to a disturbing close when he was arrested Tuesday on a charge of sexual assault, stemming from an incident just hours after competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Dumisane Hlaselo, 22, of 7 SW 23rd St., told police he entered his roommate's bedroom in the early morning hours of June 12 with the intention of having sex with the semi-conscious victim, according to a Gainesville Police Department report.

Hlaselo originally denied having sexual contact with the woman when interviewed on the day of the incident, but later confessed to having sex with her without her permission when questioned again by police on Tuesday, the report states.

"We are aware of the arrest of Dumisane Hlaselo," the UF athletic association said in a statement. "We find these charges deeply disturbing. He is no longer a member of the University of Florida track and field team."

According to the report, the victim woke to find Hlaselo on top of her. When Hlaselo ignored her pleas to stop, she pushed him to the floor.

Hlaselo, a South-African native, finally fled the room naked when he said the victim began "freaking out" and is now booked in the Alachua County jail under $100,000 bail for a second-degree felony charge of sexual assault.

The incident occurred less than a day after UF's third-place finish at the NCAA Outdoors on June 11.

During the meet, Hlaselo ran to a fifth-place finish in the 1,500-meter run, scoring four points for the Gators.

Out of his high school in Johannesburg, South Africa, Hlaselo was heavily recruited by UF cross country coach Todd Morgan, who tried to get him in the program as a freshman but was held up two years by the academic side of the NCAA transfer process.

As his country's junior record holder in the 1,500m, the efforts to get Hlaselo seemed validated early on, after he broke the UF record in the mile with the first sub-four-minute time in school history and won a 2011 SEC Indoor Championships in the 3,000-meter run.

But while he seemingly dominated on the field for the Gators, the 5-foot-7, 125 pound runner had difficulties initially adjusting to life in a new country.

During his first six days in the states, Hlaselo had trouble eating American-style foods and ultimately passed out on campus from exhaustion.

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After the incident, Morgan said in December he and his staff kept a closer watch on Hlaselo, who also struggled with homesickness after leaving his mother in South Africa.

His teammates, who refer to him as "Dumi," tried to fill that void by helping him get in touch with her on the phone and taking Hlaselo back home with them on holiday breaks.

Hlaselo was, for a time, treated like an adoptive brother according to Morgan and fit in well with everyone around the program.

Courtesy Photo / Alachua County Sheriff's Office

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