Athletics: A Jewel under Threat

IGAD Countries

Ever since the immortal bare-footed marathon runner Abebe Bikila printed Ethiopia’s successful tricolour at the Rome Olympics, long distance race seems to have been inculcated in our athletics culture. Athletes, such as Mamo Wolde, Mirutse Yifter Sileshi Sihn, Haile G.Selassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Gezahegn Abera, Fatuma Roba, Gete Wami, Berhane Adere, Derartu Tulu, Meseret Defar, Tirunesh Dibaba, Genzebe Dibaba, Almaz Ayana, Mare Dibabe, Sembere Teferi and Gelete Burka are some of the names who have carried the torch of success which they relayed from generation to generation.

In spite of all these shining achievements, Haile G.Selassie, who has become a celebrity in his own right, regrets that the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) has not played a better role. Ethiopia’s voice and place in the world athletics hierarchy could have been promoted so that all the privileges that the country deserves could have been earned as rights.

Internally, despite the belated results mainly achieved by women athletes, many experts in the field including veterans the likes of Kennenisa and Gebreegiziabher G. Mariam are of the opinion that the athletes could have done better had there been a much more coordinated effort and due commitment. Centres around the country could have done better throughout the process, from screening up to applying tactics during the completion.

Some of the coaches, who had proved to be worth their names in the past, have resentment for being pushed to the margins for no fault but lack of diplomas or degrees from somewhere, deserved or not. We are now in a defining moment to do something. The Olympic Games are only about two years ahead. All the stakeholders – including athletes, coaches (degree holders and experienced) – should sit around the table and be able to work out a road map for executing success in the upcoming Olympic races.

We know that relaying tactics of gear changing at different distances by alternatively running faster does the trick, like during the reins of Haile and Sileshi. The 5,000-metre race of Beijing has shown us that it still works on our archrivals. We should not waste a single second as athlete Haile had once emphatically asserted that a second in time could mean an issue of winning or losing millions.

Read more at: Addis Tribune