Athlete Interview: Gebregziabher “Gebre” Gebremariam on Ethiopia’s preparation for London 2012

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Gebregziabher “Gebre” Gebremariam, made his athletics debut at the 2002 World Junior Championships where he won the 10,000 meters and finished third in the 5000 meters race. He also won the World Junior Championships in cross country running. The following year he made his first impact on the international scene by finishing third at the 1st IAAF World Athletics Final and second at the All-Africa Games. Currently, he is the representative of Ethiopian athletes.

Tewodros Kebkab of the English weekly newspaper here, The Reporter , spoke with him about the current status of the national athletics team and their preparations for the upcoming Summer Olympics. Excerpts:

The Reporter: The London Olympics is 239 days away, and we hear that you have started preparing, how is that going? 

Gebregziabher Gebremariam: Like you said, it is known that our preparations are underway, and the target is to get even better results than ever before. We are learning from our performance during events like the recent World Athletics Championship in Daegu, South Korea, and undergoing high level training in every respect. Athletes are very motivated and I trust that we will see a much better outcome.

Ethiopia’s less than satisfying results in the recent World Championship in Daegu have been a cause of debate among the public. In your view, what are the most beneficial outcomes of the deliberations?

While there are helpful ideas for improvement it is not quite visible. I see improvements in the support from spectators and fans as well as the understanding of the athletes but there is urgency and so all of this has to be turned into tangible performance success.

In a major meeting that was held recently, evaluation criteria were agreed upon and structural changes were made. Do you think it’s likely to happen?

Of course, there have been positive outcomes from the meeting we had. We attempted to sort out the problems and went to the root problem which was the structural organization of the federation. As we all know, it was the Athletics Federation that is often blamed when results are bad. However, it was not right since the result is the outcome of all involved bodies.

Who will oversee of the new structural organization?

There is a supreme body that controls over the implementations of every activity. The chairman of the technique committee reports the details to that supreme committee.

The national team was dismantled, and it is mentioned as a major reason for the loss. Has it been reestablished yet?

The national team had a crack because of different conflicts that rose from the athletes, members of the federation, and coaches. This time there is a realization of having this national team based on national spirit and motive. I have the information that some coaches and athletes have been chosen assigned to restore the team.

You are in charge of the athletes right now. Do you have the authority of selecting athletes?

Yes. According to the bylaws, the technique committee will review my selection and notify the supreme committee. This is a new system of course.

The other the other problem that is frequently mentioned is that there are no successors for veteran athletes. Is there anything new so far?

I don’t think there is since the federation didn’t lay out the system, and no one could be able to come to the forefront. For instance, if a successor for Haile is needed there should be a system in place.

The absence of a sports academy is one of the reasons mentioned as a failure. Why aren’t the athletes unable establish one?

The federation should have had several academies; however, it has focused on constructing buildings for offices and hotels. If the federation had built such facilities we would have more stadiums and better athletes in the future. Kennenisa, himself has built the first academy in Sululta on a 50,000sqm plot.

Many athletes complain about meeting the qualifying time but not being selected. Has this problem been solved?

This is a rumor. I don’t think there is anyone left after fulfilling the requirements.

 

What should the people expect from the upcoming London Olympics, Are you preparing well?

I assure you that we will never fail in London. We will restore our honor
By coming up with better results than what we got in Daegu.

How many athletes are going to participate?

There are 190 athletes who are diligently training in Kality, Sululta and Jan Meda.

 

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