Abebe Bikila 1960, 64& Feyisa Lilesa 2016

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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

International Association of Athletics Federations-iaaf.org

Gebrselassie chases fifth victory in Manchester

Another Manchester 10Km victory for Haile Gebrselassie - 2011
Another Manchester 10Km victory for Haile Gebrselassie - 2011 (Mark Shearman)
Manchester, UK - Running legend Haile Gebrselassie, still in great shape although no longer intending to represent Ethiopia in this summer's Olympic Marathon, will bid for a fifth win at the Bupa Great Manchester Run on 20 May.

The Bupa Great Manchester Run is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

Gebrselassie, who acknowledges Manchester's 10km course is one of the fastest in the world, scored his first victory with a then UK All-Comers' record on his first appearance in 2005 and has since emerged the winner on the last three occasions.

The world's greatest-ever distance runner, after defeating Paula Radcliffe in the OMV Champions Race in Vienna on Sunday where he gave the British star a 7 minutes 52 seconds start and then caught her in their novel Half Marathon chase race clash, is determined to score another win on 20 May.

"That was a good victory for me and considering I was running on my own for virtually the whole race my time was good," said Gebrselassie, who passed Radcliffe after 15.3k and finished in a time of 60:52.

The "Emperor" added: "Although I will not be taking part in the Olympic marathon I am still enjoying my athletics career and looking forward to coming to Manchester again and to a course which I love.”

"It's flat and really suits my running style while I must say the support I get from spectators, which I have enjoyed on every visit, really motivates me to do well.”

"I remember in particular my first victory when I achieved a very fast time in what were perfect conditions but since then the wind has always been a factor against me.”

"Hopefully this year there will be none and that will make for a much better race."

Gebrselassie, a close friend of Brendan Foster whose company Nova International organise the event, added: "When he invited me to run again I told him wasn't it time he gave someone else a chance to win one of the world's best 10k races. But really, I was joking and always wanted to return. Manchester is a favourite venue for me."

The Bupa Great Manchester Run, which will be celebrating its tenth staging this year after being first staged in 2003 as a legacy to the City's magnificent hosting of the previous year's Commonwealth Games, has accepted a record 40,000 entries for this year's race.

Mara Yamauchi, who has already been named to represent Team GB in the London Olympic Marathon, will be joined by several other top Britons in the women's including 20-year-old Charlotte Purdue who, returning from injury, narrowly failed to defend her title in last Sunday's SPAR Great Ireland Run.

Kenyan pair dominate the London Marathon with convincing wins - CNN.com

Prince Harry is flanked by the London Marathon winners Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany.
Prince Harry is flanked by the London Marathon winners Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wilson Kipgang wins men's race at London Marathon
  • Kipgang finishes over two minutes clear of former winner Martin Lel
  • Mary Keitang claims women's title in Kenyan record
  • Over 37,000 runners took part in 32nd staging of race
(CNN) -- Kenyan pair Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany won the men's and women's races at the London Marathon Sunday to serve notice of their gold medal credentials for the Olympics later this year.
The race also acted as a trial race for selection for the Kenyan team for the London Games and Kipsang and Keitany were impressive winners on both counts.
Kipsang, who has run the second fastest time of all time, finished over two minutes clear of a class field to win in two hours, four minutes and 44 seconds -- just four seconds outside the course best set by compatriot Emmanuel Mutai in winning last year's race.
Fellow Kenyan Martin Lel outsprinted fellow former London champion Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia for second place to seal his place for the Olympic marathon which will take place over many of the same roads in the capital in August.
Keitany led a Kenyan sweep of the podium places as she defended her London title with a commanding performance.
Her time of two hours, 18 minutes and 36 seconds was a new Kenyan record.
2011 world champion Edna Kiplagat finished second, more than a minute adrift with world silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo a further 24 seconds behind in third.
Behind the elite runners over 37,000 started the 32nd staging of the famous race which finishes on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.
Prince Harry was at the finish to present trophies to winners.

Who Is Making Ethiopia's Olympic Team? - Track & Field News | NBC Olympics

Who Is Making Ethiopia's Olympic Team? - Track & Field News | NBC Olympics:

'via Blog this'

With 6 of the 8 fastest times in 2012, it's anyone's guess who is London-bound this summer

By: Joe Battaglia, NBC Olympics
Yemane AdhaneAP Photo
Yemane Adhane of Ethiopia celebrates winning the Rotterdam Marathon. Was the win enough to earn him a spot in the Olympics?
The majority of this spring marathon season has been devoted to figuring out how Kenya will sort through the list of its runners who so thoroughly dominated the world scene in 2011 to select three for its Olympic team.
Meanwhile, their Ethiopian counterparts have dominated the marathon in 2012, running 13 of the top 20 times in the world so far.
Which begs the question, who will be making that Olympic team?
In truth, the Ethiopian selection has become equally difficult to try and grasp because their runners have put up the kind of times the Kenyans seemed to have reserved for themselves just a year ago. Consider:
  • In January, Ayele Abshero won the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:23, the fastest time in the world this year. To edge countrymen Dino Sefer (2:04:50), 2011 Los Angeles Marathon champion Markos Geneti (2:04:54) and Tadese Tola (2:05:10).
  • Last week, Yemane Adhane won the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:04:48, beating teammate Getu Feleke by two-hundredths of a second.
In just two races, Ethiopia has recorded six of the eight fastest times in the world. And not included among those runners are former world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie, who has removed himself from Olympic consideration, and two others who would seem to have strong credentials for selection.
Gebre Gebremariam is the 2010 New York City Marathon champion. Last year, he finished third in the Boston Marathon in 2:04:53, the sixth-fastest time in the world in 2011. On Monday, Gebremariam finished 14th in Boston, running 2:22:56 in the sweltering heat.
Then there is Tsegaye Kebede, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, whose personal-best of 2:05:18 came in Fukuoka, Japan in 2009. He is running Sunday’s London Marathon and knows he needs the race of his life if he is to get a shot at upgrading his medal from Beijing.
"I have guys ahead of me," Kebede said. "I need to run 2:04 or quicker to get to the Olympics. These guys can now run under 2:04, so I have to try that too."
Athletes are assuming that time is going to be the determining factor because unlike Kenya’s Isaiah Kiplagat, no one from the Ethiopian Athletics Federation has outlined what criteria will be used in their selection process.
Before Boston, Gebremariam said he had no idea what he needed to do to make the Olympic team. Somewhat cryptically, Tola was scheduled to run in Boston but scratched. Scuttlebutt in running circles was that he was sent home by Ethiopia “to rest.”
Rest for what? Has he already been picked for the team? Were his managers spooked by the 80-degree temperatures that were forecast for the race and decided to let his performance in Dubai speak for itself?
Once again, there are lots of questions and few answers.

Who Is Making Ethiopia's Olympic Team? - Track & Field News | NBC Olympics

Who Is Making Ethiopia's Olympic Team? - Track & Field News | NBC Olympics:

'via Blog this'

With 6 of the 8 fastest times in 2012, it's anyone's guess who is London-bound this summer

By: Joe Battaglia, NBC Olympics
Yemane AdhaneAP Photo
Yemane Adhane of Ethiopia celebrates winning the Rotterdam Marathon. Was the win enough to earn him a spot in the Olympics?
The majority of this spring marathon season has been devoted to figuring out how Kenya will sort through the list of its runners who so thoroughly dominated the world scene in 2011 to select three for its Olympic team.
Meanwhile, their Ethiopian counterparts have dominated the marathon in 2012, running 13 of the top 20 times in the world so far.
Which begs the question, who will be making that Olympic team?
In truth, the Ethiopian selection has become equally difficult to try and grasp because their runners have put up the kind of times the Kenyans seemed to have reserved for themselves just a year ago. Consider:
  • In January, Ayele Abshero won the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:23, the fastest time in the world this year. To edge countrymen Dino Sefer (2:04:50), 2011 Los Angeles Marathon champion Markos Geneti (2:04:54) and Tadese Tola (2:05:10).
  • Last week, Yemane Adhane won the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:04:48, beating teammate Getu Feleke by two-hundredths of a second.
In just two races, Ethiopia has recorded six of the eight fastest times in the world. And not included among those runners are former world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie, who has removed himself from Olympic consideration, and two others who would seem to have strong credentials for selection.
Gebre Gebremariam is the 2010 New York City Marathon champion. Last year, he finished third in the Boston Marathon in 2:04:53, the sixth-fastest time in the world in 2011. On Monday, Gebremariam finished 14th in Boston, running 2:22:56 in the sweltering heat.
Then there is Tsegaye Kebede, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, whose personal-best of 2:05:18 came in Fukuoka, Japan in 2009. He is running Sunday’s London Marathon and knows he needs the race of his life if he is to get a shot at upgrading his medal from Beijing.
"I have guys ahead of me," Kebede said. "I need to run 2:04 or quicker to get to the Olympics. These guys can now run under 2:04, so I have to try that too."
Athletes are assuming that time is going to be the determining factor because unlike Kenya’s Isaiah Kiplagat, no one from the Ethiopian Athletics Federation has outlined what criteria will be used in their selection process.
Before Boston, Gebremariam said he had no idea what he needed to do to make the Olympic team. Somewhat cryptically, Tola was scheduled to run in Boston but scratched. Scuttlebutt in running circles was that he was sent home by Ethiopia “to rest.”
Rest for what? Has he already been picked for the team? Were his managers spooked by the 80-degree temperatures that were forecast for the race and decided to let his performance in Dubai speak for itself?
Once again, there are lots of questions and few answers.

Marathon running in Britain is not wasted on the youth | Andy Bull | Sport | The Observer

Marathon running in Great Britain is no longer wasted on youth

Globally the trend is going the other direction with more young athletes going straight into the long hauls
Virgin London Marathon 2011
Great Britain's Liz Yelling during last year's London Marathon. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images
At the British team press conference ahead of the London marathon, one reporter wanted to ask an obvious but indelicate question. He struggled to find the right way to phrase it, and fell back on an old formulation: "You are," he said to Liz Yelling, "all women of a certain age, aren't you?" To her credit Yelling, who is 37, laughed and agreed. Great Britain have three places in the women's Olympic marathon. Two have been filled by Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi, who are both 38. The leading contenders for the third space are Yelling and Jo Pavey, who is also 38.
There are 19 athletes classed as "leading Britons" running in Sunday's London marathon, and 13 of them are older than 30. Only one, John Beattie from Newham & Essex, is younger than 28. Across the entire UKA entry list of club runners there are more athletes aged 50 and over than there are 25 or under. In Great Britain, marathon running has become a veteran's game.
Globally, though, the trend is going in the other direction. In Kenya, Ethiopia and America, more and more young athletes are moving straight into marathon running. Of the nine elite Kenyan athletes in Sunday's field, seven are aged 29 or under. The world record holder, Patrick Makau, is 27, the world champion, Abel Kirui, is 29, and the man who won silver behind him, Vincent Kipruto, is 27. Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede won bronze in the 2008 Olympic marathon when he was 21. At 34, Martin Lel is the old man of the Kenyan team and even he says that these days "a marathon runner reaches his peak at around the age of 26".
Not in Britain, they don't. Ben Whitby, 35, explains. "European runners tend to move through the distances first and then come into the marathon." Whitby's friend and training partner Scott Overall, 28, says he is "a classic example. I started at 800m, 1500m, and worked my way up to the 5km, 10km. As you get older you do some road races and then as you move towards the end of your career, when you are not in the fastest shape ever, you run a marathon."
British athletes tend to move into marathon running almost as a last resort, when they have lost the speed of their early years but developed the stamina that comes with the accumulation of high mileage in training. Overall moved into marathon running because he failed to qualify for the Olympic 5,000m team. Yelling, who works as a coach in her spare time, says: "In Britain we stop kids running. We are always placing limitations on what kids can do at certain ages, for their own well-being. They go into schools and then are not allowed to run long distances. When you come out of that system, you start building up the distances. We worry about the welfare of our children more."
The reigning Olympic marathon champion, Constantina Dita from Romania, won the title at 38. She believes the difference is physiological. "Europeans have a different body to African athletes. We need to see how the body responds to the marathon distances in training. I have met many young European girls who run marathons and then after one or two years they are done with their careers, because they are burned out or broken down."
Richard Nerurkar, who finished fifth for Great Britain in the 1996 Olympic marathon, agrees with Yelling that we mollycoddle our young runners. "If you are a coach working with a very good 20-year-old athlete in Britain you would be under a lot of pressure not to put too much load on them." Nerurkar feels this has changed over the past 30 years. "If you were to go back to the 70s and look at our top juniors, runners like Nicky Lees, I am sure they were running 90 miles a week. They weren't running marathons, they were running good times at 5,000m, and they probably could have run 2hr 12min, 2hr 13min marathons as juniors."
"There is an obvious difference between Africans and Europeans," Nerurkar says, referring to the age that runners move into the marathon. "You explain that by saying an African teenager is much tougher than a European teenager in terms of endurance. Compared to what a lot of African youngsters endure in their childhood, western teenagers have a very soft upbringing."
Britain's Lee Merrien, 32, says: "There is certainly more of a culture of just going out and running in Kenya. The best form of transport is your own two feet so they have got better background in running from a younger age."
Marathon running has become more lucrative than track running, and Overall believes this is one reason why American and Kenyan athletes are moving into the sport at a younger age. "They have such strength in depth in the distance events on the track, guys know that realistically they are not going to make a championship team. So how can they make a living? Go to the roads. There are so many road races around the world, big city marathons even half marathons and people go where the money is."
Louise Damen, 29, is in the queue of marathon runners forming behind Paula Radcliffe and her fellow veterans. "They are good role models," she says. "But from a developmental point of view, it would be fantastic for a slightly younger marathon runner to have an opportunity to run in the Olympic Games."

About Me

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.