Abebe Bikila 1960, 64& Feyisa Lilesa 2016


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ethiopians excel in Germany - IOL Sport | IOL.co.za

iol spt apr29 Dawit
Bongarts/Getty Images
Ethiopians Shami Dawit, pictured, and Seboka Diriba Tola broke local marathon records in winning the men's races in Hamburg and Dusseldorf.
Hamburg – Ethiopians Shami Dawit and Seboka Diriba Tola broke local marathon records in winning the men's races in Hamburg and Dusseldorf Sunday.
Dawit posted 2 hours 5 minutes 58 seconds over the 42.195
kilometres in Hamburg, bettering the previous best mark in the northern German city of 2:06.52 set by Julio Rey of Spain in 2006.
Ethiopian Dadi Yami was second in 2:07:01, with Augustine Ronoh of Kenya third in 2:07:23. The women's race was won by Rael Kiyara of Kenya in 2:23:47.
Tola and Kenyan Agnes Jeruto set course records in winning the men's and women's races in Dusseldorf.
Tola crossed the line in 2:08:27, edging Duncan Koech of Kenya (2:08:33) and Abraham Kiprotich of France (2:08:35).
Jeruto clinched the women's race in 2:25:49 ahead of Nastassia Staravoitava of Belarus (2:27:24) and Melkam Gisaw of Ethiopia (2:27:50). – Sapa-dpa

Ethiopians shine in Hamburg, Dusseldorf - SuperSport - Athletics

Ethiopians Shami Dawit and Seboka Diriba Tola broke local marathon records in winning the men's races in Hamburg and Dusseldorf on Sunday.
Dawit posted two hours five minutes 58 seconds over the 42.195 kilometres in Hamburg, bettering the previous best mark in the northern German city of 2:06.52 set by Julio Rey of Spain in 2006.
Ethiopian Dadi Yami was second in 2:07:01, with Augustine Ronoh of Kenya third in 2:07:23. The women's race was won by Rael Kiyara of Kenya in 2:23:47.
Tola and Kenyan Agnes Jeruto set course records in winning the men's and women's races in Dusseldorf.
Tola crossed the line in 2:08:27, edging Duncan Koech of Kenya (2:08:33) and Abraham Kiprotich of France (2:08:35).
Jeruto clinched the women's race in 2:25:49 ahead of Nastassia Staravoitava of Belarus (2:27:24) and Melkam Gisaw of Ethiopia (2:27:50).

Abebe Bikila's 1960 marathon victory – in pictures | Sport | guardian.co.uk

Abebe Bikila was born on 7 August, 1932 in the village of Jato, 9km outside the town of Mendida, in Ethiopia. Bikila decided to join the Imperial Bodyguard to support his family and walked to Addis Ababa where he started as a private. Onni Niskanen, a Finnish-born Swede, was hired by the Ethiopian government to train potential athletes and he soon spotted the young man's talent. However, Bikila was only added to the Ethiopian Olympic team at the last moment, just as the plane to Rome was about to leave. He was a replacement for Wami Biratu, who had broken his ankle in a football match. Niskanen entered Bikila and Abebe Wakgira in the marathon.

50 moments: Abebe Bikila in Rome in 1960
50 moments: Abebe Bikila triumphant
50 moments: Abebe Bikila, Rhadi Ben Abdesselam And Barry Magee On The Podium

50 moments: Abebe Bikila at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

In 1964 Bikila traveled to Tokyo, he was not expected to compete but did choose to enter the marathon. He used the same strategy as he had in 1960: to stay with the leaders until the 20km mark, then slowly increase his pace. After 15km he had only the company of Ron Clarke from Australia and Jim Hogan from Ireland. Shortly before 20km only Hogan was still in contention and by 30km, Bikila was 40 seconds in front of Hogan and two minutes in front of Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan, who was now in third place ...
50 moments: Abebe Bikila Winning Second Olympic Marathon
But Bikila entered the Olympic stadium alone, to the cheers of 70,000 spectators. He finished the marathon in a new world record time of 2hours, 12 minutes and 11seconds – 4minutes, 8seconds in front of the silver medallist, Basil Heatley of Great Britain. Kokichi Tsuburaya was third. Bikila was the first athlete in history to win the Olympic marathon twice. After the finish he went on to astonish the crowd. Not appearing tired, he began a routine of stretching exercises. He later said that he could have run another 10km.
50 moments: Abebe Bikila practices for the Paralympic Games
In 1969, during civil unrest in Addis Ababa, Bikila was driving his Volkswagen Beetle when he had to swerve to avoid a group of protesting students. He lost control of the car and it landed in a ditch, trapping him. He was freed eventually but the accident left him quadriplegic. He was operated on at the Stoke Mandeville hospital in England and his condition improved to paraplegic. Niskanen convinced him to take up archery and Bikila entered competitions for athletes in wheelchairs, including the International Paraplegic Games, for which he was practicing in this picture, at the Stoke Mandeville stadium.
50 moments: Competitors run past the ancient Roman Colosseum
On 25 October 1973, Abebe Bikila died in Addis Ababa at the age of 41 from a cerebral haemorrhage, a complication related to the car accident. He left behind his wife and four children but his funeral in Addis Ababa was attended by 75,000 people and Emperor Haile Selassie I proclaimed a national day of mourning for his country's national hero. After his death, his memory has been honoured. A stadium in Addis Ababa is named in his honour and numourous schools and awards bear his name. During 2005 in Rome, the city where the world first laid eyes on the talented Abebe Bikila, runners staged a night race in memory of him.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

50 stunning Olympic moments No24: Abebe Bikila runs barefoot into history | Sport | guardian.co.uk

24 years after his country's capital was conquered by Italy, Ethiopia's Abebe Bikila became the first black African to win gold.View a gallery of pictures of Bikila here.
Abebe Bikila
Abebe Bikila draws away from Rhadi Ben Abdesselam near the end of the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images
Few could have predicted when Italy hosted the 1960 Olympic Games that come the opening ceremony Rome would be cavorting in the midst of an economic boom. But the legacy of Fascist rule, which had ended 17 years earlier, still remained. And while many axes and insignia had been chipped away in a post-regime iconoclastic orgy, nowhere in the capital was the regime's presence more evident than around the two Olympic sites.
Paved with ancient-style mosaics of Fascist sportsmen, slogans and 264 references to Benito Mussolini, the Via dell'Impero, the main Foro Italico thoroughfare leading from the imposing Mussolini obelisk to the Olympic stadium, courted most controversy. Flanked by huge blocks of travertine stone, it was etched with key events in Fascist history, in the midst of which was the conquest of the Abyssinian capital Addis Ababa in 1936. It was into this environment that Abebe Bikila, a private in Haile Selassie's Imperial Army, stepped.
Small, lean, barefooted, in bright red shorts and a green vest sporting the number 11, Bikila was a last-minute replacement in the marathon for an injured team-mate. His challenge was taken far from seriously. "Who's this Ethiopian," questioned one commentator. He was not alone.
Bikila's unofficial personal best for the 42.2km – better than the world record – was widely dismissed as impossible. He arrived in Rome with one pair of running shoes but they were ruined in training in the month before the Games. With his new ones causing blisters, his decision to compete barefoot, feet toughened by miles of shoeless training on the high Ethiopian plains, only added to the general derision.
The marathon began in the heat of the late afternoon at the Campidoglio, Rome's civic centre set above the Forum. The athletes followed Mussolini's triumphant thoroughfare past the Coliseum, the Palatine Hill and the Circus Maximus.
Here, settled at the back of the leading pack, Bikila glided past the Obelisk of Axum that had been plundered from Abyssinia. Continuing south and exiting the city, a breakaway pack began to materialise: "With the English Kiley, there's the Irishman Messipy [Messitt], the Belgian Van der Blicher, the Morrocans Rhadi and Saudy, and there's that unknown Ethiopian we saw earlier," announced the commentator. "He's called Abebe Bikila. He's barefoot."
At the 32km mark, in Rome's peripheral countryside, with the sun disappearing behind the city, the runners turned from a somewhat bizarre section of the capital's orbital road and on to the Appian Way that used to connect the ancient city with Brindisi, on Italy's south-eastern coast.
Breaking with the tradition of daytime Olympic marathons that concluded in the stadium, the early evening start maximized the spectacle as the athletes negotiated 8km of the cypress-tree-lined Appian Way, in darkness. As Bikila's bare feet rhythmically kissed the uneven stones, the half moonlight, the illuminated ancient Roman monuments and hundreds of torch-bearing soldiers intensified the atmosphere and added to the drama. As Alberto Cavallari wrote in his Corriere della Sera report: "It wasn't a marathon it was 'Aida', with the Romans roadside making up the chorus."
Re-entering the city at the Porta San Sebastiano, with impeccable timing Bikila left his sole pursuer, the Moroccan Rhadi Ben Abdesselam, just as he repassed the Axum obelisk. Finishing in 2hr 15min 16sec, Bikila shattered the Olympic record and set a new world best, before dancing a jig of joy beneath the Arch of Constantine where many of his rivals simply collapsed.
Coming less than 25 years after Mussolini's forces had conquered his capital at the end of a cruel colonial war, it was the significance of his victory as much as the ease with which he had consumed the capital's kilometres that fascinated.
Marking the rise and future dominance of East African middle- and long-distance runners, in the presence of the all-white South African team that the International Olympic Committee chose not to challenge, and against the vastly better funded and better equipped Soviet, US and European athletes, Bikila ran his name and that of his country into history.
But his victory was not simply that of Ethiopia, it was also a triumph for Rome and the Games. Transcending his lack of shoes, for which he is most fondly remembered, he dramatically closed the final event under the lights and arch of a long-departed emperor while, at the same time, eclipsing the memory of a more recent wannabe.
Following the fierce parliamentary debates over the negative image presented by the Fascist-built venues to the outside world, and the retaliatory neo-Fascist graffiti that marked the city in the buildup the Games, there was no better, more apt or powerful demonstration of Italy's break from the past than this glorious, individual victory by an ex-colonial subject.
As the editor of the British Olympic Association's magazine World Sports condescendingly concurred, in his report from Rome: "It is a scene to remember – a moment of theatrical drama; a moment so unusual in modern world athletics, when a virtual unknown from an insignificant country crosses the seas and conquers the heroes. It is a fine, unsophisticated, illogical victory […] This […] was an historic Olympic marathon both in terms of performance and backcloth […] its drama was in its setting, presentation and outcome."
Despite the years of preparation, the Games' greatest and most enduring moment was not only completely unplanned, it was totally unimaginable. Bikila, this tiny, barefoot former colonial subject, mixed the unexpected with drama to create a scriptwriter's dream and become the greatest symbol of the new, rejuvenated, post-Fascist country.

What the Observer said

The Observer: Sunday 11 September 1960
Bikila Abebe, a 28-year-old member of Emperor Haile Selassie's bodyguard, won the marathon gold medal in the last big event of the Olympics last night. Abedisiem Rhadi of Morocco was second and B. Magee, of New Zealand. Third. Abebe's time was 2hr 15min 16.2sec, which was 7min 47sec better than Emil Zatopek's Olympic record. In fact, the first 15 all improved on the old record. Prowess in big international cross-country races on the Continent had made Rhadi one of the more fancied competitors, but none outside East Africa had heard of Abebe, who won the greatest marathon in the 64 years of Olympic history.

What happened next?

Six weeks before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Bikila was taken ill with appendicitis and underwent surgery. Still recovering when he arrived in Japan, he went on to become the first athlete to retain the Olympic marathon title. In 1968, a car accident in the city of Sheno, 76km from Addis Ababa, left Bikila confined to a wheelchair. His competitive spirit undiminished, he won gold in a 25km cross-country sledge competition in Norway in 1970. Suffering complications from his paralysis, he died in October 1973 and was buried in the presence of Selassie.
On the 50th anniversary of his win, the 2010 Rome marathon was dedicated to Bikila's memory and, appropriately, Ethiopia claimed a male and female double. The women took first, second and third places, and the men's winner, Siraj Gena, picked up a €5,000 bonus, offered by the race organiser, for completing the final 300m barefoot. Although few visitors to Rome could have noticed the small plaque mounted on the wall of the Foro dei Imperiali dedicated to Bikila, he remains a local hero, the "escaping Ethiopian" who ran Italy into the democratic dawn.
Sport Italia by Simon Martin, published in 2011 by IB Tauris, narrates the history of modern Italy through the national passion of sport.
• This article was amended on 26 April 2012 to clarify that the person referred to in a commentary as Messipy, was in fact Bertie Messitt.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kenyans Dominate in Boston & London Marathon, Ethiopians Win in Rotterdam

Universal Sports
By AfricaNewsNet
Updated April 17, 2012 11:00 am

Wesley Korir led a sweep of the top three spots in the 2012 Boston Marathon by Kenyan men; Kenyan women took four of the top five spots in the women's part of the race.
The Boston Globe reports that, just before Heartbreak Hill on the route of the 2012 Boston Marathon, a spectator shouted to Wesley Korir that he was in sixth place. After the race, he explained his thinking at the time: “I thought, if I finish No. 5 in Boston that would be awesome. After I passed No. 5 I thought, let me get to fourth. I wasn’t thinking about winning. I was thinking about counting one person at a time. One by one, it just happened.’’ And so it did, so it did.
Before long, 29-year-old Korir was the winner of the 116th Boston Marathon, on one of the hottest days the race has been run. His winning time of 2 hours 12 minutes 40 seconds was a record of sorts: it was the third slowest time in 27 years. In 1985, Geoff Smith won in 2:14:05.  Five years ago, compatriot Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot was slower, completing the race in 2:14:13, but that was in driving rain and wind.
Korir is a permanent resident of the US — he hopes to become a citizen soon — and graduated from University of Louisville with a degree in biology. This was his debut year at the Boston Marathon; he has previously won the Los Angeles Marathon twice and finished second in the Chicago Marathon last October, behind Moses Mosop.
Compatriot Geoffrey Mutai, who was hoping to finish strong, if not win, in order to have a realistic chance of the making Kenya's Olympic team for the 2012 London games, dropped out at mile 18 with stomach cramps. Mutai won the 2011 Boston Marathon in a sizzling, world-best 2:03:02, when conditions were nearly perfect conditions. Said Mutai afterwards: “I can’t blame anything or anyone. I am still happy.’’
In the women's part of the race, Sharon Cherop, who couldn't quite close the deal in the race a year ago and finished third, this time around paced herself carefully, despite the intense heat and a minor knee injury, biding her time as her top competitors fell back. She kicked up speed after the turn into Boylston Street, the final segment, to break away from compatriot Jemima Jelagat Sumgong, and won in 2 hours 31 minutes 50 seconds, just two seconds ahead of Sumgong (2:31:52). Georgina Rono finished third in 2:33:09.
After the race, Cherop said that course familiarity — and a keen sense of who she was up against — helped her win. “This time I knew the course,’’ said Cherop. “I had already decided. I was going to start my sprint at the corner. We work together, so I knew how [Sumgong] runs.’’
The Boston win, worth $150,000, is Cherop's third in international races; she took the titles in Toronto and Hamburg in 2010. The win also almost cements her changes to get onto the Kenyan Olympic team. Of the six women up for consideration for the squad, Cherop was the only one to run Boston.
Selection of the men's three-man Olympic squad will done after the London Marathon, to be held on Sunday, April 22. Four of the five Kenyan men being considered will be in that race.
Though the racing world was focused on the Boston marathon, Africans were dominant elsewhere over the weekend. On Sunday, April 15, Ethiopian Yemane Adhane won the Netherlands' Rotterdam Marathon in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 48 seconds, ahead of fellow countryman Getu Feleke (2:04:50) and Kenyan Moses Mosop (2:05.02). Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia won the women's race in 2:18:58, the fastest time of the year.
In Paris, Stanley Biwott of Kenya won the city's marathon in a record time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 11 seconds, beating the old mark of 2:05:47 set by compatriot Vincent Kipruto in 2009. Ethiopia's Beyene Tirfi won the women's race in 2:21:40.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Town of Runners | Film reviews, news & interviews | The Arts Desk

Two young Ethiopians from a small but remarkable town run for their lives

Eshetu's future champions: 'In another town they would ask, 'Have you all gone mad?''
Footage of wiry East African men and women breaking the tape in marathons and distance track-events is now more or less synonymous with the highest achievements in top-level sport, and it won’t come as a surprise to those who’ve lived through more than a couple of cycles of the Olympic Games to be reminded that the medal-winners in the long-distance running events are no longer, generally speaking, from “round here”. The headline of Jerry Rothwell’s grass-roots feature documentary, though, is that, actually – at least for the last two decades or so – a disproportionate number of them don’t simply come from “over there”, either. Where they come from, in fact, is a single small town in the Ethiopia’s central highlands: Bekoji, pop. 16,000.
Even in the context of the Ethiopian highlands, the people of Bekoji – a town joined to Addis Ababa only by a dirt road – are like some kind of fitness cult. Or the inhabitants of Asterix’s village. It’s honestly as though there’s something in the water. Presumably not (though I reckon the idea merits further study) – but what there is, instead, is coach Sentayehu Eshetu, a local hero figure who in this country would long since have been given his OBE and who is responsible for having weaned the talents of such long-distance legends as Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele and Derartu Tulu. Under Eshetu’s tutelage, in fact, at the Beijing Olympics alone, the town of Bekoji took gold in all four major distance events – more medals than most entire countries.
The young Alemi just chose to run everywhere. I’m sure I remember a similar story about Sebastian Coe
Town of Runners follows the trajectories of two girls, Hawii Megersa and Alemi Tsegaye, both aged around 15-16 (they don’t actually know), from what might be called the “start” of their running careers if the population as a whole didn’t seem to be out running from the age of about 10.
And while Hawii and Alemi attend running school in the woods, doing high knees at dawn, in the mist (with a soundtrack of chirpy home-grown jazz to show just how cheerful the Ethiopian people are, even when they’re under the lash), the context of Ethiopian small-town daily life is provided by the wistful voiceover of Biruk Fikadu, local kiosk-owner and (of course) aspiring runner who, we are led to assume from his downbeat demeanour, isn’t about to cruise to victory in the Olympic 5000m final.
In fact, Biruk has already been stood done, even at a local level, on account of his youth and limited strength. So he tells of the Chinese trucks that are building the new road to the capital, of how the rains have come too late this year for the harvest to be saved, of how he hopes to pass his 10th grade matriculation at school and go on to qualify as a doctor.
Bekoji is the standard grim environment for an African documentary. Literally dirt poor, a town of tough subsistence farming. The local beauty salon is two combs and a seat in someone’s front garden. In the market, they weigh out garlic bulbs and Chinese Wellingtons (Eshetu refers to “the Chinese” as “a road construction company”: amusing, and at a local level in much of Africa, basically true). At the Oromia regional championships, the running track is laid out by hand, with white chalk and plumb line, on a surface of raked earth. And after the rainy season in Bekoji, the runners’ first job is to hoe the training ground back into existence. Even at the national championship level, most of the competitors are running in bare feet