Abebe Bikila 1960, 64& Feyisa Lilesa 2016


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kenya out to dominate marathon | thetelegraph.com.au

Wanjiru Death
National treasure: The late Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya.Source: AP
FEW nations could absorb the loss of an Olympic gold medallist and still feel confident of retaining the title at the next Games, but Kenyan faith that they will win the men's marathon again in London seems completely justified.
Raila Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, called Sammy Wanjiru "one of our sure bets for gold" in London and described his death last year as "therefore a big blow to our dreams".

Wanjiru rewrote summer marathon race tactics in becoming the first Kenyan man to win the Olympic road run at Beijing four years ago breaking a 24-year-old Games record in a time of 2hrs 06min 32sec.
He also won Chicago in 2009 (in 2:05:41) and London (2:05:10) the same year. At just 24, Wanjiru died in a fall from a balcony at home in his village; whether it was suicide, murder or an accident is still debated.

But, perhaps inspired by Wanjiru, Kenya's runners have gravitated to the marathon since the last Olympics and completely owned the event last year.
As of March 16 this year, Kenya had a mind-blowing 278 men and 61 women who have bettered the IAAF A-qualifying entry time for the Olympic marathon. The IAAF qualifying time for men is 2hrs 15min and 2:37:00 for women.
Athletics Australia controversially raised the bar to 2:12:00 for men and 2:32:00 for women. To date, since the Olympic qualifying period started in January 1, 2011, the only Australian male qualifier is Michael Shelley (2:11:23). There are three women: Benita Willis (2:28:24), Lisa Weightman (2:29:23) and Jessica Trengove (2:31:02).

Australia's choices for London are uncomplicated.
Not so straight-forward in Kenya, because in 2011 their men won every major big city marathon as well as the world title race and broke course records in all the majors as well.
The top 20 times in the world were run by Kenyans. That includes the world record 2:03:38 by Patrick Makau Musyoki to win Berlin last September. A month later Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich ran only 4sec slower in winning in Frankfurt.
Yet the two fastest times ever run are not even eligible for the world list because the famous Boston course fails to conform to record specifications.
So that eliminated Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02) and Moses Mosop (2:03:06) who dominated Heartbreak Hill to grab a quinella for Kenya in Boston last year.
But they are both still in the mix for the Kenyan team. The pressure for the third Kenyan men's marathon spot for the Olympics in August is extreme because official world recordholder Makau, and 2011 Daegu world marathon champion Abel Kirui have been selected.
Kenya will finalise its marathon selections after the northern spring marathon races wrap up, probably after the London city race on April 22. Boston will be run on April 16.
But Kenya's northern neighbour Ethiopia was never going to let such domination stand, especially in an event made their own by Olympic gold medallists Abebe Bikila (marathon winner Rome and Tokyo), Mamo Wolde (Mexico winner) and Haile Gebrselassie (world record breaker, first man under 2:04).
As of this week, Ethiopians hold eight of the world's top-12 fastest men's marathon times in 2012, including the top three marks by Ayele Abshero (2:04:23), Dino Sefir (2:04:50) and Markos Geneti (2:04:54). The times were all recorded at Dubai or Houston

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Women reign on world track  - Magazine |theeastafrican.co.ke

Women reign on world track

Photo/File  Kenya’s Hellen Obiri. She won the women’s 3,000m final at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships at the Atakoy Athletics Arena in Istanbul on March 11.
Photo/File Kenya’s Hellen Obiri. She won the women’s 3,000m final at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships at the Atakoy Athletics Arena in Istanbul on March 11.  
By AYUMBA AYODI  (email the author)

Posted  Friday, March 23  2012 at  19:01
  • The women claimed two gold medals at the just concluded World Indoor Championships in Turkey, writes Ayumba Ayodi.
Kenya put on an exceptional show at the just concluded World Indoor Championships in Turkey and the Africa Cross Country Championships in Cape Town.

The women, in particular, saved the region some blushes by claiming two gold medals, while the male athletes, who opted for an early pace that proved counterproductive, settled for silver and bronze.
The results from the Africa Cross Country Championship weren’t a replica of last year when Kenya swept all the individual and team titles but still, winning six out of eight titles was phenomenal.
The naysayers were silenced when Pamela Jelimo, who is also the reigning Olympic Games 800m champion and the fast-rising Hellen Obiri pulled off a magnificent victories in the 800m and 3,000m respectively.
The victory was particularly emotional for Jelimo, who is out to rescue a career that had plummeted owing to injuries she sustained just after winning Kenya its first Olympic title at the 2008 games in Beijing.
Obiri’s victory not only erased the misfortune of the 2011 World Championships in Daegu where she tripped and fell during the 1,500m final but halted a successive title for Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar.
Kenya’s other previous indoors wins are by Paul Korir (1,500m, 2004), Bernard Lagat (3,000m, 2004) and Wilfred Bungei (800m, 2006). Lagat is now a US citizen.
Tactical errors by Kenyans Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi, and Uganda’s Moses Ndiema Kipsiro handed Lagat his third consecutive title in the 3,000m.
Choge, the 2005 Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion settled for silver, Soi got bronze while Kipsiro, the 2012 World Championships 5,000m bronze medallist, finished a distant seventh.
The men also disappointed in the 800m when favourite Boaz Lalang, Timothy Kitum of Kenya, and Uganda’s Julius Mutekanga fell in the semi-finals of the race that went to Ethiopian Mohammed Aman who won the race.
Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat fizzled to a distant seventh in the 1,500m final after Bethwell Birgen fell in the semi-finals. Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco prevailed in the race.
“The indoor track is all about tactics. I now want to fully focus on how I will defend my Olympic Games title in London,” said Jelimo.
Obiri, who declared her intentions for the Olympic Games 1,500m title held by Jebet Lagat, said: “The coaches told me to stay behind her and use my power and kick in the last 100m and it worked well.”
The 2010 World Indoor silver medallist Lalang and Choge blamed it on wrong tactics.
“I took to the front too early and relaxed on the home stretch with 50 metres to go,” said Lalang.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ethiopian Woman First to Finish Marathon Under Sunny Skies - Eagle Rock, CA Patch

A 20-year-old Ethiopian woman was the first runner to cross the finish line of the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon under blue skies.
Wearing red, Fatuma Sado kneeled down to kiss the ground after completing the 26-mile, 385-yard course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica's Ocean Avenue in 2 hours, 25 minutes and 39 seconds. She captured a $100,000 bonus for beating the fastest man in the challenge race, Simon Njoroge, 31, of Iten, Kenya.
Forecasters had predicted on-and-off showers through the day, and hail and thunderstorms. But the course was dry and temperatures were in the mid-40s. Race organizers described the weather as "near perfect."
"The race was good," Sado said, speaking softly through an interpreter at a news conference. "The weather was cold when I started, and at the end it was windy—that is why I did not get so good of a time."
Marathon Press Officer Rich Perelman initially projected Sado might shatter marathon records. With an injury to her left leg, she limped slightly in the beginning and final stretches.
As she rolled downhill toward the ocean, nearing the finish line at the Santa Monica Pier, Sado looked over her shoulder to find the elite men competitors at least four minutes behind.
"Doesn't she just look great?" Perelman said.
Njoroge finished today's race in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 12 seconds, with a pace of 5 miles and 2 second per mile. Last year—in spite of heavy rain—Markos Geneti ran the fastest marathon ever in Los Angeles with a time of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 35 seconds.  
Sado and Njoroge each received $25,000 and a 2012 Honda CR-V, valued at $29,795. Her prizes totaled $149,795.
Hers is the fifth best women's time in the race's 27-year history, just shy of the fourth-place record of 2 hours, 25 minutes and 38 seconds set in 2010 by Edna Kiplagat. Sado hasn't placed lower than second in the four marathons she has completed since 2011.
The elite women's field got a 17-minute, 31-second head start, based on
a formula involving the lifetime bests of the elite male and female runners.
The bonus has been won by male runners four times and women runners four times.
Clouds loomed, but it was dry at dawn as more than 20,000 runners massed outside Dodger Stadium for start of what is traditionally one of the most grueling athletic events known to man. The starter's gun for the main pack fired about 7:25 a.m.
The clouds parted at the 10th mile. But the elite runners said that's when temperatures dropped and the wind picked up, hurting their times in the final stretch through Santa Monica.
Last year, a drenching 2.42 inches of rain fell over the marathon course, and dozens of runners got dangerously cold. Today, race organizers were equipped with about 5,000 plastic trash bags to keep racers warm and dry at the start. Some 23,000 Mylar blankets were also on hand to help runners guard against hypothermia, according to marathon Chief Operating Officer Nick Curl.
Heating buses were on stand-by at the medical stations and the finish line.
Last year, more than 300 marathon runners were evaluated for hypothermia and 20 were hospitalized. Rain has fallen on the race three other times in addition to last year. Trace amounts of rain fell twice in the 1990s, and 1.6 inches fell on the race in 2000, spokesman Perelman said.
The race has been held annually since 1986. For the third year in a row, the race will be run on the "Stadium to the Sea" course, billed by organizers as having a landmark every mile.
From Dodger Stadium, the course heads toward downtown, passing Chinatown, Olvera Street, City Hall, Little Tokyo, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. After the downtown leg, the course heads west through Echo Park and Silver Lake into Hollywood, passing the Hollywood & Highland Center, home of the Academy Awards, and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
The field then headed south onto Sunset Boulevard, entering West Hollywood, then Beverly Hills, where the runners swarmed Rodeo Drive. The latter parts of the race, officially known as the Honda LA Marathon, include Century City, the Veterans Administration grounds and Brentwood's broad San Vicente Boulevard, concluding near the Santa Monica Pier.
Changes to the race included allowing two-person relay teams, with each person running half the race, and an expansion of the race's charity program. About 200 relay teams have entered the race, with teams raising funds for the race's official charities. The relay hand-off point was on Sunset Boulevard, just before the Sunset Strip. The expansion of the race's charity fundraising efforts include the "I Run 4 Something" initiative, encouraging all the runners to raise money for their favorite causes.
Race organizers believe runners can raise $4 million for charitable causes, breaking last year's record. Since Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt purchased the operating rights to the race in 2008, the amount of money raised for charity has gone from just over $1.25 million in 2009 to $1.95 million in 2010 to just under $3 million in 2011, according to race officials. A field of about 23,000 runners is expected. The male and female winners will each receive $25,000 and a Honda CR-V, valued at $29,795.
— City News Service contributed to this report. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Haile Gebrselassie set for Vienna return to chase Radcliffe | AthleticsAfrica.Com

Haile Gebrselassie in Vienna / Photo credit: PhotoRun.Net
Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie will return to the Vienna City Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on April 15th to chase down Paula Radcliffe over Half Marathon, which is staged parallel to the main event.
Similar to 2011 a chase race is arranged, but this time the opponent is a woman as Gebrselassie will compete against Radcliffe in the OMV Champions Race.
The British world marathon record holder had been announced earlier as a competitor in the half marathon. She will now start the race with a time advantage and Haile Gebrselassie will chase her.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to present our spectators a race of which you could only dream of. Haile running against Paula – two inspiring personalities and may be the two best runners of all times up against each other – this is something unique in the world of road running,” said a delighted Wolfgang Konrad, the Race Director of the Vienna City Marathon.
His event will feature a total of more than 33,000 runners. Entries are still possible for both the marathon and the half marathon.
Haile Gebrselassie took the race in 2011 with a course record of 60:18 minutes. He also won the chase race with the motto ‘Catch me if you can’ against the leading marathon runners, who were given a head start.
A year ago he received a tremendous reception by the spectators, politicians from the city and even the President of Austria. Mr Heinz Fischer had invited the two time Olympic 10,000 m Champion for a reception.
Haile Gebrselassie was so impressed after the weekend in Austria that he promised to come back. He does so at the very first opportunity.
After the disappointing result in the Tokyo Marathon, where Haile Gebrselassie finished fourth with 2:08:17 which is not fast enough to qualify for the Ethiopian Olympic team, there was a bit of a doubt regarding the race in Vienna.
But he decided to go ahead as planned. So the half marathon will now be his next race – and this should be an experience he will enjoy once more.
Both superstars had initially welcomed the idea of the chase race and confirmed their participation instantly. The time advantage for Paula Radcliffe will be determined nearer to the race.
She will start her race on her own while Haile Gebrselassie and the whole field will be chasing her on the way to the finish, which is located on the famous Wiener Heldenplatz – Vienna’s Hero Square.
There could hardly be a more fitting finish for the duel of two of the world’s greatest athletes.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Somali residents welcome Ethiopian troops after rebel rout | Top News | Reuters

Ethiopian soldiers stand guard outside a compound where Ethiopian officials were holding a news conference in Mogadishu, January 8, 2009. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
1 of 1Full Size

By Kumerra Gemechu

BAIDOA, Somalia (Reuters) - After three years of killings and violence under the rule of al Shabaab rebels, residents of the Somali city of Baidoa said they were happy to see the arrival of Ethiopian soldiers, whose presence they once resented.

Under al Shabaab's control, Baidoa's leaders say the city's people became poorer, conditions worsened and many were forced to flee. The return of Ethiopian troops, once seen as Christian invaders in a Muslim country, was a welcome relief.

Ethiopian and Somali troops seized the city from al Shabaab insurgents last month, in a major blow to the militants battling Somalia's weak interim government.

Somalia has been in turmoil since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Fighting has killed more than 21,000 people since al Shabaab launched its insurgency in 2007.

"Al Shabaab colonised us for three years and 12 days. Many of us were killed, many of us were displaced and many have migrated. So we are the survivors," Mohammed Ma'alim Barhi, a clan leader, told reporters in the city 250 km northwest of Mogadishu.

"They (Ethiopian troops) have entered here three times before. Now we like them, we support them and we are with them."

Al Shabaab, which announced in February that it was merging with al Qaeda, imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic sharia law. In areas under its control, music, movies and soccer were banned and people were beheaded or had limbs amputated as punishments.

"Before, there was a strong propaganda against the Ethiopians but these three years there are many things the people saw. There was over-taxation, they are killing people," Abdifatah Mohamed Gesey, governor for Bay region, said of the insurgents

Abebe Bikila: The Ethiopian Marathoner Who Wore No Shoes - Olympics - Yahoo! Sports

The 1960 Olympic Games are given a historic makeover, as the events are held in Rome, Italy, a venue rich with ancient history.
With history serving as a backdrop for this Olympiad, it was only fitting that more history be made at these Games. Ethiopian marathon runner, Abebe Bikila, was primed for the challenge. At this Olympics, Bikila became the first black African Olympic champion. Representing Ethiopa, Bikila prepared intensely for the 1960 Games—so intensely that he suffered a blister on his foot, only days before the competition. Rather than be compromised by this injury, Abebe decided to run the marathon in bare feet. His competitors snickered at the sight of a marathon runner with no shoes.
he race was started at Campidglio Square and a sneakerless Abebe was not running with the leaders until the 15-kilometer mark, where he started to gain momentum. By the 20-kilometer mark, there were only two leaders: Abebe and Abdesselem Rhadi of Morocco, who was considered among the favorites for gold. At the 35-kilometer mark Abebe and Rhadi were running neck and neck. But with 1 kilometer left, Abebe pulled away, setting a new record of 2 hours 15 minutes and 16.25 seconds, improving the old record by about eight minutes. With bare feet, Abebe made his historic footprint on these Games.
During the next four years, Abebe competed in several marathons, but sealed his name in the record books at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. This time he wore shoes, and this time Abebe ran with the leaders of the pack, right from the start. At the 20-kilometer mark, he pulled himself away from the front runners, and from that point on, he never looked back. He won gold with a time of 2 hours 12 minutes 11.2 seconds, beating his own Rome record. When he crossed the finish line, he showed no signs of fatigue, convulsion or joy, he simply performed stretching exercises, as if no marathon had been run. Abebe became the first man in history to win back-to-back marathons.
Abebe was confident he could do it a third time in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, however dropped out of the race at the 15-kilometer mark, due to a leg injury. It is reported he told fellow Ethiopian runner Mamo Wolde, "I cannot continue running because I am seriously ill. The responsibility of winning a gold medal for Ethiopia is in your shoulder." At that point Wolde took the lead, and eventually the gold.
In 1969 Abebe was in a tragic car accident that left him a paraplegic. Never bittered by his situation, or left with a heart closed to competition and sport, Abebe strengthened his hands and made them skilled as an Archer. In 1970, he also participated in a 25KM cross-country sledge competition in Norway, where he won the gold.
He was grateful for his gifts and never one to ask why. Sadly, his young body gave out and he died tragically at the age of 41. Abebe was an Ethiopian and universal hero of the grandest kind.
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Updated 11 hours
Abebe Bikila the Legend
It is a thriller rare in modern Olympics. With amazing grace he changed the Olympic Marathon leaving colorful footsteps forever. First he ran barefooted then in shoes.
Early Life
Abebe Bikila was born in 1932 in the North Showa region of Ethiopia, in a village called Jato. He grew up in a typical village setting. He received some church education. In his youth, he was noted as a good swimmer, Guna player, a type of hockey played during Christmas, and a skillful horse rider. At the age of 17 he moved to the capital city, Addis Ababa, where he began a military carrier in the imperial bodyguard regiment.
Athletic Career
To keep the troops physically fit, the army unit had regular sport activities. This program gave him a chance to develop his natural talent for sport. Later on as a symbol of unity the armed forces established a yearly sport competition event, which was designed to reunite the three forces, The Army, The Air Force and The Navy in shared activities. In his first Annual National Army Athletic competition, he finished the race in 2 hours 39 minutes and 50 seconds. That opened a new chapter in his life. He was noted by the Swedish coach Onni Niskanen who was then a director of athletics under the ministry of education and later an official of the Red Cross.
With the assistance of Niskanen, Abebe made an intensive preparation for the 1960 Rome Olympics. Abebe Wakijera was the only other athlete who qualified to go to Rome besides Abebe Bikila. Just days before the competition, Abebe had a blister in his foot due to running with a new shoe. Some had claimed that he used to train on barefoot. However, it was absolutely not true. He decided to run barefoot only as a result of inconvenience. Sergey Popov of Russia, who was the world record holder, Abdesselem Rhadi of Morocco, who won the international race that same year and another notable, Barry Maggee, of New Zealand were among the participants and the favorites to win the race.
The race began at Campidoglio Square. Abebe kept running close but was not in the leaders pack until they approached the 10 kilometer mark. By the 15 kilometers, he gained momentum and joined the leaders group. By then the competition came down to four people which included Rhadi and Arthur Kelly of Britain followed by the Belgian Van den Dreissche and Abebe Bikila. At the 20th kilometer mark Abebe and Rahdi were running side by side leaving everybody behind them. They passed the 35th kilometer mark running neck to neck. With 1 kilometer left, Abebe Bikila drew away. The distance between the two front runners gradually grew. Running strongly Abebe Bikila finished the race with a new record time of 2 hours 15 minutes and 16.25 second improving the previous record that was set at Helsinki in 1952 by about 8 minutes.
When Niskanen was later asked by a reporter if he was surprised by Abebe's victory, he replied that he was not and he added that "others do not know Abebe as I do. He has no fear for his rivals. He has strong willpower and dedication. There is none like Abebe I had ever seen. Abebe was made by Abebe, not by me or anyone."
In the following years he participated in several international competitions. However, the competition that gained him more fame in the history of the Olympics came four years later at the Tokyo Olympics. The 18th Olympic Game, the first in Asia was spectacularly organized. The marathon was highly regarded by the Japanese as a real test of human endurance compare to a life-long journey.
The race started with sixty-eight world class athletes. Immediately Ron Clark of Australia and the Irishman Jim Hogan took the lead pack. This time running with shoes, Abebe stayed close in the front lead. Gradually he advanced and at the 20th kilometer mark he became first opening gap between himself and the other two front runners.
Running with soft strides; Abebe became the lone runner leaving everyone behind. He was already a favorite of the Japanese. He won the Mainichi marathon held in Osaka in June of 1961. Estimated by the police over a million spectators lined up in the streets cheered him at every step of the way. He won the race with a record time of 2 hours 12 minutes 11.2 second improving his own record time in Rome. Once again, he crossed the track into the field and preformed his stretching exercise. He dazzled and astounded the 80,000 spectators. Basil Heatley came second followed by Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan in the stadium. Abebe had undergone an appendectomy 36 days before the Olympic. At the finish, he had showed no expression of fatigue nor convulsion or enthusiasm.
In a news conference after the event Abebe predicted that he would win in the 1968 Olympic in Mexico City. Mexico City situated at a similar altitude to Addis Ababa. While training before the 1967 Zarauz competition Abebe hurt his leg. He competed in the race but failed to finish the course. He was sent to Germany for the necessary treatment by the Emperor; however the discomfort to his leg was recurring during training.
Very much confident, he arrived in Mexico City with the intention of winning and defending his Olympic title for the third time. He started in the leading pack running ahead most of the way. Many were certain that Abebe would win a gold medal. Nevertheless, his injury to his leg could not take the pain any more. As the pain became unbearable, he decided to leave the competition. It was reported that he encouraged Mamo Wolde who was in the race, "I cannot continue running because I am seriously ill. The responsibility of winning a gold medal for Ethiopia is in your shoulder." At the 15 kilometer mark Abebe dropped out of the race. Mamo Wolde took the lead running alone with a little competition from the rest of the athletes and finished the race in the first place in 2 hours 20 minutes and 26.4 seconds.
In 1969 while traveling back from his home town Abebe had a tragic car accident. Realized by the Emperor that he could not successfully be treated at the local medical facility, he was sent to the Stoke Mandeville hospital in England. After eight months of treatment he returned to Ethiopia in a wheelchair. Upon his return he was welcomed by a cheering crowd. His physical limit never made him give up his love for sport. His competitive sprits never diminished.
It was at the hospital in Stoke Mandeville that he strengthened his hands and made them skilled. Two years later, 1971, he entered in a paraplegic sport competition in England competed in Archery among hundred competitors he finished seventh. In that same year he participated in the International Paraplegic Games in Norway. He competed in dog sled race and finished first. As a result of his achievements as an outstanding marathoner and paraplegic sport person, he was respected and received with warm welcome by fans, officials and Presidents alike around the world.
In 1972, he was invited to the Munich Olympic Games as a special guest. He was received by standing ovation as he entered the stadium in a wheelchair. In remembrance of his fortieth birthday a gala celebration was held at the Olympic village in the presence of athletes and officials of the organization.
Abebe Bikila died In 1973 October 20 at the age of 41. He was buried at the St. Joseph cemetery. An estimated of 75,000 mourners, His majesty, members of the royal families, ambassadors as well as local and international reporters attended the state funeral.
I win first and foremost for the honor of my country
I run as I possibly could, Victory comes from God
In the days of my victory I had faith enough to thank the Lord, now as well; I should not but accept my accident in Grace
International Championships
Berlin196210,000 Meters2nd
Copenhagen196220,000 Meters1st1.11.00
South Korea1966Marathon1st2.17.04