Abebe Bikila 1960, 64& Feyisa Lilesa 2016


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tiny town that breeds Olympic champions - CNN.com

Tiny town that breeds Olympic champions

From Jessica Ellis, CNN"The air is very thin up here," says Eshetu. "If you can train in this difficult air, your body adapts to it. The adaptation makes it easy when you go to a lower altitude. You can run freely in the air elsewhere. This makes a massive contribution to the success of our runners, because from their childhood they have been training in this air."
February 27, 2013 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
In his small office in Bekoji, Eshetu has kept a record of his runners since he first began training them some 25 years ago. The weight, height and fastest time of all of his prodigies are hand-written here, year by year, so he can keep track of their progress. In his small office in Bekoji, Eshetu has kept a record of his runners since he first began training them some 25 years ago. The weight, height and fastest time of all of his prodigies are hand-written here, year by year, so he can keep track of their progress.
Town of champions

  • Ethiopian long-distance runners have won 35 Olympic medals in the last 20 years
  • In the small Ethiopian town of Bekoji, coach Sentayehu Eshetu has discovered four gold champions
  • His prodigies include star runners Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenenisa Bekele
Bekoji, Ethiopia (CNN) -- It might be many miles away from the usual sporting capitals of the world, but when it comes to long-distance running there's one tiny place that's setting the pace.
Nestled amidst rolling farmlands on the green hills of southern central Ethiopia, Bekoji is a sleepy town of less than 20,000 people, most of whom are farmers and herders.
But apart from the wheat and maize growing on Bekoji's fertile soil, this small town a few hours south from capital Addis Ababa is also the breeding ground for some of the best track and field athletes in the world.
Set at about 2,800 meters above sea level, Bekoji has produced a string of Olympic champions and world-beating long-distance runners, including multiple Olympic gold medal winners Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenenisa Bekele.

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Sentayehu Eshetu, the legendary coach who has so far trained four of Bekoji's Olympic gold winners, says that a winning mix of thin air, lean diet and different terrains has helped the town's rich crop of runners stand out in recent years.
"Our training fields are very conducive for athletics," says Eshetu, 56, who is known in Bekoji simply as "Coach." "We have downhill, flat land, all of these here in Bekoji. The food they eat also has an impact, the weather has an impact, the combination of these makes the kids successful."
Eshetu is quick to add, however, that favorable weather and training conditions do not guarantee success. Determination and dedication are key, he says.
"Our runners are successful because they work hard," he explains. "They work with the aim of reaching for success. This is what makes them different."

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And if there's anyone who should know about success, that's Eshetu. For some 25 years he has been discovering and nurturing the talents of some the finest runners in Ethiopia -- a global powerhouse in long-distance running, with 35 Olympic medals in the last 20 years.
Apart from Dibaba and Bekele, Eshetu has also trained Derartu Tulu, a two-time Olympic champion, Tiki Gelana, the marathon winner at the 2012 London Olympics, Tirfi Tsegaye, winner of the recent 2013 Dubai Marathon, and many others.
Using a blue-walled mud hut as an office and Bekoji's fields as training grounds, Eshetu spots, coaches and mentors scores of local youngsters who follow his rigorous routine in the hope of running their way from Bekoji to international stardom.
"When I recruit athletes, I look at those who have a desire to put in the work," says Eshetu. "I look at their shape. Kids who are too short won't have good results. Those who are tall walk upright and those who complete their training with passion, I recruit them.
"They train here for three years after entering the camp. After three years, those with good results move on to other clubs. After that, based on their time, they compete in other races, even international ones."
But for the majority of these young athletes, this is not an easy road. Poverty is common, sporting equipment does not come cheap and most get by on no more than two meals a day.
Here athletes have difficulty with getting regular food, with owning shoes, they face a lot of problems.
Sentayehu Eshetu, running coach
"Here athletes have difficulty with getting regular food, with owning shoes, they face a lot of problems," says Eshetu. "They have to sew their shoes, manage with little food, work long and hard, but I believe this allows them to become stronger and successful."
Eshetu's golden girl is three-time Olympic champion Dibaba, a member of a sporting family dynasty that includes four successful long-distance athletes. Last summer, as Dibaba sprinted through the finish line to win gold in the 10,000 meters at the London Olympics, Eshetu was watching proudly on a screen thousands of miles away.
"Sentayehu knew that my cousin Derartu Tulu ran," says Dibaba. "He knew that my sisters ran too, that's why he encouraged me to start running. He used to tell me that I would be a great runner. He knew I would be a fast runner that's why he started coaching me."
For Dibaba, representing a country with such a distinguished athletics history brings a feeling of great responsibility.
"Our country is not like other countries," says Dibaba. "You should bring back gold when you compete for Ethiopia. The people don't accept anything less, the people won't be happy with anything less.
"Silver and bronze in our country is no better than finishing fifth or sixth. I want to make people happy and therefore think of finishing first. My heart pounds when I think of this, and that why I train hard, to make the people happy."
Driven by a strong sense of duty and a strong desire to produce successful athletes, Eshetu shows no signs of stopping. Instead, he's always keeping an eye out for the next rising star to come out of Bekoji's rich crop.
"Running for Ethiopia is a movement that has shown the world where we are, what we can do and who we are as a people," says Eshetu.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ethiopia Back in AFCON buta half suspended 10,000 dollar Fined for Fan Behavior | Video | kare11.com

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Ethiopia Back in AFCON but Fined for Fan Behavior

Ethiopia is back in the Africa Cup of Nations after a 31 year absence. But the conduct of its fans has left the national team with a half suspended 10,000 dollar fine.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ethiopia's Gelana named 2012 AIMS female World Athlete of the Year


President Emeritus of AIMS Hiroaki Chosa, Tiki Gelana and Vice President of the Japanese Athletics Federation Dr Keisuke Sawaki (AIMS)

Ethiopia’s London 2012 Olympic Games Marathon champion Tiki Gelana was named as the female AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year for 2012 in Marugame, Japan, on Sunday (3).
President Emeritus of AIMS Hiroaki Chosa and AIMS Board Member and Vice President of the Japanese Athletics Federation Dr Keisuke Sawaki presented Gelana with the acclaimed Golden Shoe Trophy during an awards ceremony after she had won the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon earlier in the day.
Gelana, 25, becomes the first Ethiopian women to win the AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year Award. She joins her male compatriots Gezahenge Abera (2000) and Haile Gebrselassie (2006, 2007 & 2008) in winning this prestigious award.
She started 2012 with a runaway win and personal best of 1:08:48 in the Marugame Half Marathon but that was just a warm-up for a decisive five-minute victory in the Rotterdam Marathon, where she became the fifth woman to break 2:19 for the distance when she ran a national record of 2:18:58.
The following week Mary Keitany won the London Marathon in the only faster time posted during the year, but when both went to London for the Olympic Games it was Gelana who triumphed.
Despite an early fall she stayed in the ever dwindling leading group. In the final kilometre, she started to edge ahead of her three remaining rivals, crossing the line in a new Olympic record of 2:23:07. She then further improved her Half Marathon best to 1:07:48 when finishing third in the Great North Run in September.
The AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year Awards were founded in 1992 and are decided each year from nominations made by the 350 member races of AIMS.  
AIMS President Paco Borao commented: “I am delighted that AIMS can recognise this fantastic athlete with the AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year Award. Tiki demonstrated excellent form in 2012 culminating in her magnificent Gold Medal winning performance at the London Olympic Games. It is with great pleasure we recognise her achievements on behalf of the 350 members of AIMS in over 95 countries throughout the world. I would like to give special thanks to everyone involved in the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon who made this presentation possible as part of this fantastic event.”
Tiki Gelana commented: “To be named as AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year is a fantastic honour. To see my name alongside such legendary names in the sport is an incredible feeling. I would like to also extend my thanks to AIMS for their support and all sponsors who make this prestigious award possible.”
The men’s 2012 AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year will be named in the near future.
Previous winners of the AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year.
Year of Award
Male Winner
Female Winner
Benson Masya (Kenya)
Liz McColgan (Great Britain)
Dionicio Ceron (Mexico)
No Award
Vincent Rousseau (Belgium)
Uta Pippig (Germany)
No Award
Tegla Loroupe (Kenya)
Paul Tergat (Kenya)
Uta Pippig (Germany)
Josia Thugwane (South Africa)
Tegla Loroupe (Kenya)
Ronaldo da Costa (Brazil)
Tegla Loroupe (Kenya)
Abel Anton (Spain)
Tegla Loroupe (Kenya)
Gezahenge Abera (Ethiopia)
Naoko Takahashi (Japan)
Josephat Kiprono (Kenya)
Catherine Ndereba (Kenya)
Khalid Kannouchi (USA)
Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain)
Paul Tergat (Kenya)
Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain)
Stefano Baldini (Italy)
Mizuki Noguchi (Japan)
Jaouad Gharib (Morocco)
Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain)
Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia)
Lornah Kiplagat (Netherlands)
Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia)
Lornah Kiplagat (Netherlands)
Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia)
Constantina Dita (Romania)
Sammy Wanjiru (Kenya)
Mary Keitany (Kenya)
Patrick Makau (Kenya)
Liliya Shobukhova (Russia)
Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya)
Mary Keitany (Kenya)