An athlete-cum-cobbler

By Mark Jenkin

Fikadu ShumeBeneath the mountains of Addis Ababa, the elements needed to produce elite athletes are clear to see.

Patience, determination, precision … and discarded car tires.

As an example of the resourcefulness of Ethiopian runners, the handiwork of Fikadu Shume is impressive.

For six days a week, he is not only dedicated to his own training schedule but plays a vital role in helping others.

Fikadu looks after more than 300 regular customers, performing the vital role of repairing running shoes.

It is regretful that many Ethiopians must make their first tentative steps towards elite status while wearing dilapidated trainers.

On fields, roads and tracks across the country the evidence is clear: Runners are giving their best with gaping holes in their shoes and socks poking through.

Fikadu’s business is attempting to remedy the situation. By skilfully using a large needle and the “jimat” nylon wire found in car tires, he sews up the holes and patches the wear-and-tear.

“Most athletes don’t have good shoes,” Fikadu says. “Shoes are expensive.”

In the renowned running town of Bekoji in Oromia, Fikalu Yeshifica speaks for many when he highlights the problem.

Standing in tattered fluorescent footwear, his big toes are poking out of the front. Yet a lack of suitable kit has not stopped the 21-year-old completing a half marathon in 63 minutes.

Read more at: The Reporter