The village of Bekoji, in the highlands of Ethiopia, has produced long-distance runners who’ve won 16 Olympic medals in 20 years. What explains this remarkable success?
“Runing is in my blood,” says Tolo Debele, feeding his 3-month-old boy Dawit in his gated compound in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. “It’s changed everything in my life.”
The long-legged 32-year-old is wearing a pair of bright blue running shoes with shock absorbers on the heels, provided by his sponsor, Nike. A competitive marathon runner, he’s raced in Asia, Europe, and America. But his wife Askale Tafa has him beat: Their massive cabinet in the living room is packed with sparkling trophies, mostly hers. Fifth place, Boston; third place, Dubai; second place, Berlin.
Not long ago, Tolo and Askale were living a very different life: herding cattle and farming in Bekoji, the pastoral, grain-producing town in central Ethiopia, several hours south of Addis, where they grew up. They moved to the capital to join a large urban running club, but they’ve maintained their ties to Bekoji, capitalizing on their athletic success by opening a hotel back home.
And they’re not the only champions from their town of 17,000. Bekoji has produced seven Olympic medal-winning runners: Kenenisa Bekele and his younger brother Tariku Bekele, Derartu Tulu and her cousins Ejegayehu Dibaba and Tirunesh Dibaba, Fatuma Roba, and Tiki Gelana. Among them, Bekoji’s runners have won 16 total Olympic medals—10 of them gold—and more than 30 world championships. For some perspective: The runners from this tiny town have hauled in more gold medals than India (population: 1.2 billion) has won in all Summer Olympic categories put together, and nearly twice as many as Indonesia (population: 247 million) has. The Dibaba sisters alone have won as many medals as Syria (population: 22 million) and Saudi Arabia (population: 28 million) combined, and Tirunesh Dibaba has racked up as many golds as Pakistan (population: 179 million). Between 1995 and 2004, the legendary Haile Gebrselassie, who grew up in the nearby town of Asella, held the world record for the 10,000 meters for all but two years. Kenenisa Bekele broke Gebrselassie’s record 10 years ago, and he’s held it ever since.
This single-minded devotion is easy to see on the streets of Bekoji. Almost everyone in town—whatever his or her profession—wears running shoes, and people regularly gather in shops with TVs to watch major running events, especially when Ethiopians are competing. Tolo has a brother and sister who are runners, and his wife’s brother is one, too.
After I arrived in town, an arduous three-bus journey from the capital, I explored the track-and-field mecca at the crack of dawn, the time when Bekoji’s forests pulse with hundreds of casual and serious runners. The town is fantastically beautiful, surrounded by lush fields and green, cloud-tipped mountains. There is one main thoroughfare and market, and simple mud huts mingle with small, modern buildings that have electricity and running water. Everywhere you go, you’re flanked by animals—horses, donkeys, goats, cows, sheep, and stray dogs. On rare occasions, tourists and foreign journalists visit as well, seeking answers about the runners’ town.
If Bekoji were simply home to a good runner or two, it wouldn’t be such an anomaly. Ethiopia as a whole has been renowned for its runners since Abebe Bikila—who came from a village in the Shewa region, northeast of Addis—won the marathon at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Not only did he break the world record for the event and become the first sub-Saharan African to win an Olympic gold, but he did it running barefoot. Bikila stunned the world again at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics when he won another gold only six weeks after undergoing surgery for acute appendicitis. Since 1960, Ethiopia has won 44 Summer Olympic medals—all in races 3,000 meters or longer, and mostly over the past 15 years.
The phenomenon extends southward to neighboring Kenya as well. Middle- and long-distance runners from these two countries now holdmore than 90 percent of the all-time world records and current top-10 world rankings for their events. Ethiopia’s most accomplished runners tend to hail from the Shewa and Arsi zones (Bekoji is in Arsi), while Kenya’s best are usually from Nandi county. All these regions run along the steep edges of the Great Rift Valley, at elevations of 6,500 feet or more.
In his book The Sports Gene, the Sports Illustrated writer David Epsteinoffered an evolutionary explanation for East Africa’s disproportionate success in distance racing. Citing the work of researchers such as the University of Glasgow biologist Yannis Pitsiladis, Epstein wrote that the ethnic groups producing the region’s top distance runners are descended from tribes who lived in the Nile Valley, and, over generations, adapted to the hot, dry climate, which tends to produce people with long, thin limbs that cool down easily. He noted that runners with slender calves and ankles expend less energy when racing, and that runners training at just the right high elevation—around 6,000 to 9,000 feet—use oxygen more efficiently by producing additional red blood cells. Other theories credit these runners’ diets, or, as one study by Pitsiladis and another scholar put it, their “favorable skeletal-muscle-fiber composition and oxidative enzyme profile.”
But Bekoji’s runners are exceptional even by the standards of this extraordinary region. Tolo explained that rural life cultivates strong, disciplined people—crucial characteristics for long-distance runners. Running, often barefoot, is simply a part of life in Bekoji. (In town, most people wear shoes, but farmers and shepherds frequently forgo them.) “We are running everywhere,” Tolo said, whether it’s shepherding farm animals or simply getting from point A to B in a town with virtually no cars.
And if altitude helps build endurance, Bekoji has that going for it as well: It’s higher than many other towns in the Great Rift Valley, at more than 9,000 feet above sea level. Runners train in thin highland air (what some residents call “healing air”), which makes racing at lower altitudes relatively easy. The forest also serves as a natural training ground; runners zigzag between the trees and use their roots as an obstacle course.
Of course, just under half the world’s population lives in rural areas, and many people live at high altitudes. Yet the planet has few Bekojis. What isunique about the town is its coach Sentayehu Eshetu, who trained most of Bekoji’s most successful runners. Sentayehu grew up far from Bekoji, in the eastern Ethiopian city of Harar. He was a gym teacher there, but had to flee his hometown after Ethiopia’s war with Somalia in the late 1970s. The 57-year-old coach has a knack for picking champions, though he was never a professional runner himself. “I can tell a great athlete just by looking at them,” he says.
I meet Sentayehu at an outdoor table at Hotel Wabe, the establishment Askale and Tolo opened two years ago. The coach—looking the part in his baseball cap, light windbreaker, and white running shoes—ticks off the qualities he looks for in a champion: running technique, posture, body type, discipline, and general health. “The first thing is the desire of the athlete,” he adds. As he speaks, passersby pay their respects, curious onlookers peer through the fence surrounding the hotel, and shepherds crack their whips in the distance.
Sentayehu discovered Derartu Tulu, the first of Bekoji’s most successful runners, almost 30 years ago, when she was only 14. At the time, Sentayehu was working as a gym teacher at a school in Bekoji. Derartu—who went on to compete in the 1992 Barcelona games, where she became the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal—was a fierce competitor even as a young teenager. “There was nothing she wouldn’t do to win,” Sentayehu recalls. He began to personally train Derartu according to his own specially designed program, and he’s been training other athletes that way ever since.
Derartu’s success inspired runners like Kenenisa Bekele, who started training seriously at age 18 when Derartu was already famous. By that time, Ethiopian runners had other role models to motivate them: Sentayehu explains that running became popular in Ethiopia after Abebe Bikila won the Olympic marathon in 1960. Abebe “made Ethiopia’s flag known to the world,” he explains.
But when Bekoji’s own runners began winning international competitions, it had a galvanizing effect on the whole town. Beyecha Bekele, the father of Olympic medalists Kenenisa and Tariku, is grateful for the success his older son enjoys as the world’s reigning master of the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races. “I was just an ordinary farmer, but when Kenenisa won and made our name famous, I was so proud,” he says, sitting in a separate hotel Kenenisa built in Bekoji. (Few tourists visit the town but, thanks to the largesse of Bekoji’s famous sons and daughters, they now have several places to stay.) Beyecha, who cuts a charming figure in his flat cap, scarf, and cane, takes no credit for his son’s fame. “It’s God and Coach Sentayehu that have helped him get this far,” he says. “Sentayehu is his father. He changed Kenenisa’s life.”
Two years ago, the government-run Ethiopian Athletics Federation spentmore than $67,000 to open a live-in training center for young runners. Each year, Sentayehu selects 20 male and 20 female runners between the ages of 12 and 20 into his two-year training program, and many of them go on to join one of the professional running clubs in bigger towns and cities. (The training is so time-consuming that many end up dropping out of school.) Almost all come from farming families, and they don’t have to pay for the training. “We just need them to be ready mentally,” Sentayehu says. The coach isn’t entirely dependent on the Ethiopian government for financial assistance; the Girls Gotta Run Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit, now works with local organizations tohelp fund the training of young runners and the salaries of assistant coaches, including Bekoji’s first female coach.
After 30 years, Sentayehu has his regimen down to a science. “I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I think I know how to take care of my kids,” he says. The runners wake up at dawn every day to a light, carbohydrate-heavy breakfast of besso, a local drink made from barley. After a brisk workout beginning around 6 a.m. in a forest near the training center, the coach leads a discussion in which he points out mistakes runners have made and gives them advice. Throughout the week, the young athletes cycle through grueling workouts using the track in the town’s stadium and Bekoji’s undulating terrain, which includes rolling hills and flat stretches. Sentayehu tells his trainees to maintain good hygiene, eat high-carb foods like wheat and potatoes, rest when they’re not training, and stay out of trouble. Alcohol and dating are strictly forbidden.
Biruk Fikadu, 20, is one of Sentayehu’s protégés. He’s been running the 800 meters for three years, and his best time is an impressive 1:49. Tall and razor-thin, with a prominent brow, Fikadu is serious and polite. Though the weather is chilly at the outdoor table at Hotel Wabe, he isn’t shivering. He’s used to early-morning running in the crisp forest air.
In Ethiopia, where the gross national income per capita is $400 and nearly40 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day, running offers a means of escape. A very successful marathoner can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from sponsorships, prize money, and fees for appearing in races (these can be as high as$250,000 per event), and many athletes start businesses back home with their earnings. Haile Gebrselassie, for instance, has amassed a small real-estate empire since his running days. And as of 2007, Tirunesh Dibaba was earning about $500,000 a year—and that was before she won three Olympic gold medals.
But while Biruk grew up on a small farm in Bekoji, he says money isn’t his primary motivation for winning. “I want to defeat David Rudisha,” he says with a smile, referring to the Kenyan Olympic champion and world-record holder for the 800 meters.
“The first thing in their mind is winning. There’s no thought of material gain,” insists Sentayehu. “We train them to win, not to make money.”
Despite Sentayehu’s tremendous influence, to visit Bekoji is to recognize that there’s no one answer to the question of why the town has improbably emerged as the world’s top producer of champion distance runners. It’s a fortunate confluence of genetics, geography, thin air, varied terrain, a temperate climate, and the rigors of rural life—bolstered in the past few decades by the talent-spotting of a singularly gifted coach and his strict, government-funded training regimen. In Bekoji, an entire culture has formed around running as a competitive sport and a professional path.
When the World Championships in Athletics took place this August in Moscow, Sentayehu joined sports fans in Bekoji as they flooded restaurants, hotels, and videobets—shops with a television and chairs where tea is served—to watch the events. About 20 Ethiopians competed, including Bekoji’s own Tirunesh Dibaba, who took the gold in the 10,000 meters. The country finished sixth overall, winning 10 medals, including three golds.
Sentayehu insists his life hasn’t changed since he became something of a local celebrity. He still gets the same modest government salary—roughly$115 a month before taxes—and still runs for his own exercise on Bekoji’s dusty streets. And he still swells with pride as he watches people from his little town win races around the world.
“There’s no question about it,” he says. “I’m very happy in my heart.”
More at: The Atlantic
በኦስሎ ዳይመንድ ሊግ የ5000ሜ ፉክክር ኢትዮጵያውያን አትሌቶች በሁለቱም ፆታዎች በአሸናፊነት አጠናቀዋል
ትላንት ምሽት በኖርዌይ ኦስሎ በተከናወነው የዳይመንድ ሊግ 5000 ሜ. ውድድር ኢትዮጵያውያን አትሌቶች በወንዶችም በሴቶችም ከአንደኛ እስከ ሶስተኛ ያሉትን ደረጃዎች በመቆጣጠር አሸንፈዋል፡፡ በዝናባማ የአየር ሁኔታ ውስጥ በተካሄደው የሴቶች 5000 ሜትር ፉክክር ዳዊት ስዩም በመጨረሻዎቹ መቶ ሜትሮች ውስጥ ፍጥነቷን በመጨመር ጉዳፍ እና ለተሰንበትን ቀድማ አንደኛ ወጥታለች፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን ለኦሪገን 2022 የአለም ሻምፒዮና ከመረጣቸው ዕጩ አትሌቶች ዝርዝር ውስጥ ያልተካተተችው ዳዊት በኦስሎ ያሸነፈችበት 14፡25.84 የሆነ ሰአት የራሷ ምርጥ ሲሆን እጅጋየሁ ታዬ (14.12.98) እና ለተሰንበት (14፡24.59) ባለፈው ወር በዩጂን ካስመዘገቧቸው በመቀጠልም የዘንድሮ የአለም ሶስተኛው ፈጣን ነው፡፡ በውድድሩ ላይ ከነበሩት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያውያን መካከል በዘንድሮው የውድድር ዓመት በርቀቱ የመጀመሪያ ተሳትፎዋን ያደረገችው አልማዝ አያና በ14:32.17 ስድስተኛ ሆና አጠናቃለች፡፡ ሀዊ ፈይሳ በ14:33.66፣ ፅጌ ገብረሰላማ በ14:43.90፣ እና አበራሽ ምንሴዎ በ14:47.98 በቅደም ተከተል ሰባተኛ፣ አስረኛ እና አስራ አንደኛ ሆነው ሲያጠናቅቁ ሶስቱም ያስመዘገቡት ሰዓት የራሳቸውን ምርጥ ያሻሻሉበት ሆኗል፡፡ ጥሩነሽ ዲባባ እ.ኤ.አ. በጁን 2008 ዓ.ም. ያስመዘገበችውና 14:11.15 የሆነው የኦስሎ ዳይመንድ ሊግ የሴቶች 5000 ሜትር የውድድር ስፍራ ሪከርድ ይሰበራል ተብሎ ተጠብቆ የነበረ ቢሆንም ሳይሳካ ቀርቷል፡፡
ዳዊት ስዩም ውድድሩን በድል ካጠናቀቀች በኋላ ለውድድሩ አዘጋጆች በሰጠችው አስተያየት ‹‹ዛሬ ለእኔ ደስታን ስላመጣልኝ በውድድሩ ሰዓት የነበረውን ዝናብ ወድጄዋለሁ ማለት እችላለሁ፡፡ ጠንካራ ተፎካካሪዎች የነበሩበት ከባድ ውድድር ነበር እናም ሁሉንም ለማሸነፍ በቅቻለሁ። በርቀቱ የራሴን ምርጥ ሰዓት ማሻሻል መቻሌም አስፈላጊ ነበር፡፡ በስታድየሙ ውስጥ በከፍተኛ ስሜት ድጋፍ ይሰጡን የነበሩ ወገኖቻችን ነበሩ። ለሰጡን ድጋፍ እናመሰግናለን።›› ብላለች፡፡ በኦስሎ የወንዶች 5000 ሜትር የመጨረሻ ፉክክሩ በኢትዮጵያውያኑ ጥላሁን ሀይሌ እና ሳሙኤል ተፈራ መካከል የነበረ ሲሆን ጥላሁን የ1500 ሜትር ስፔሻሊስቱ ሳሙኤልን በአጨራረስ ፍጥነት ቀድሞ በ13:03.51 በአንደኛነት አጠናቋል፡፡ ሳሙኤል ተፈራ የራሱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:04.35 ሁለተኛ ሲወጣ ጌትነት ዋለ የግሉ የዓመቱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:04.48 ሶስተኛ ደረጃን ይዞ ጨርሷል። በውድድሩ ላይ የነበሩት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያውያን ሚልኬሳ መንገሻ በ13:05.94 አምስተኛ እንዲሁም አሊ አብዱልመናን የራሱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:16.97 አስረኛ ወጥተዋል፡፡
ጥላሁን ሀይሌ ውድድሩን በአሸናፊነት ካጠናቀቀ በኋላ ለውድድሩ አዘጋጆች በሰጠው አስተያየት ‹‹ሶስት ኢትዮጵያውያን የመጀመሪያዎቹን ሶስት ደረጃዎች ይዘን መጨረስ መቻላችን ጥሩ አፈጻጸም ነበር። እየጠነከርኩ እንደሆነ የተሰማኝ ሲሆን በውድድሩ እና ባስመዘገብኩት ሰዓትም ተደስቻለሁ። ለረጅም ጊዜ ጉዳት ላይ ስለነበኩ ወደ አሸናፊነቱ መመለስ መቻሌ በጣም ጥሩ ነው።›› ብሏል፡፡
በኦስሎ የሴቶች 800ሜ. ውድድር ላይ ተፎካካሪ የነበረችው ኢትዮጵያዊቷ ድሪቤ ወልቴጂ በ1፡58.69 አምስተኛ ሆና አጠናቃለች።
የዘንድሮው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ብሄራዊ ሻምፒዮና በእኔ እይታ
ከመጋቢት19-24/2014 ዓ.ም በሐዋሳ አለም አቀፍ ስቴድዮም የተደረገው 51ኛዉ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ከሞላ ጎደል ስኬታማ በሚባል ሁኔታ ተጠናቋል፡፡ ከአምስት አመት በኋላ በድጋሚ በአካል በመገኘት ስለተከታተልኩት የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሀገር አቀፍ ሻምፒዮና የግል ምልከታዬን እንደሚከተለው አጠናቅሬዋለሁ፡፡ የበለጠ ትኩረትን በሳቡት ውድድሮች ዙሪያ የተመዘገቡ ውጤቶችን በወፍ በረር በመዳሰስ ስጀምር ከፍተኛ ፉክክር በታየበት የመጨረሻ ቀን የወንዶች 5000ሜ. የአለም ከ20 አመት በታች ሻምፒዮና የ3000ሜ የብር ሜዳልያ አሸናፊው አሊ አብዱልመና 13፡45.0 በሆነ ሰዓት ከጥላሁን ሀይሌ፣ ጌትነት ዋለ እና ዮሚፍ ቀጄልቻ ቀድሞ አሸናፊ ሆኗል፡፡ የፉክክሩ አካል የነበረው እና የርቀቱ የወቅቱ የአለም ሻምፒዮን ሙክታር እድሪስ ስድስተኛ ወጥቷል። ከ20 ዓመት በታች የ3000ሜ የአለም ሻምፒዮኑ ታደሰ ወርቁ በ28፡12.0 የወንዶች 10,000ሜ. ሻምፒዮን ሲሆን በ1996 ዓ.ም. በአትሌት ስለሺ ስህን ተመዝግቦ የነበረውን 28፡16.23 የሆነ የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርድ ለማሻሻልም በቅቷል፡፡ በ10 ሺህ ሜትር የሴቶች ፉክክር ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር በቀዳሚነት የጨረሰችበት 31፡21.5 የሆነ ሰዓት አዲስ የሻምፒዮንሺፕ ሪኮርድ ሆኖ ተመዝግቧል፡፡ በርቀቱ የከዚህ ቀደሙ ሪኮርድ ለተሰንበት ግደይ ከሶስት ዓመት በፊት ያስመዘገበችው 32፡10.13 የሆነ ሰዓት ነበር፡፡ ሳሙኤል ፍሬው በዘንድሮ የወንዶች 3000ሜ. መሰናክል አፈፃፀም ከአለም ሁለተኛው ፈጣን በሆነ 8፡22.5 ሰዓት አሸናፊ ሲሆን ጌትነት ዋለ ከአራት ዓመት በፊት አስመዝግቦት የነበረውን 8፡28.98 የነበረ የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርድም አሻሽሏል፡፡ በሴቶች 3000ሜ. መሰናክል ከ800ሜ ወደ ረጅም ርቀት የተሸጋገረችው ወርቅውሃ ጌታቸው በ9፡41.8 ሰዓት መቅደስ አበበን (9:43.8) በማስከትል በአሸናፊነት አጠናቃለች። አድሃና ካህሳይ (3:51.0) የወንዶች 1500ሜ ፉክክሩን በበላይት ሲያጠናቅቅ በሴቶች 1500 ሜ አያል ዳኛቸው (4:10.0) ተጠባቂዋ ዳዊት ስዩምን (4:11.1) በመቅደም በአንደኛነት አጠናቃለች። በ800ሜ. ወንዶች ቶሌሳ ቦደና (1:47.1) በሴቶች ወርቅነሽ መሰለ (2:02.1) አሸናፊ ሆነዋል። ዮብሰን ብሩ በ400ሜ/400ሜ መሰናክል (45.9/50.5) ድርብ ድል ሲቀዳጅ፣ በወንዶች ጦር ውርወራ ኡታጌ ኡባንግ ብሔራዊ ሪኮርድ በሆነ 73.28ሜ. አሸንፏል፡፡ የኋልዬ በለጠው እና ዮሃንስ አልጋው በእርምጃ ሩጫ የሻምፒዮንነት ክብርን ተቀዳጅተዋል። ጥቂት አስተያየቶች፡- የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ስፖርት አፍቃሪ እንደሆነ እና ለዕድገቱ እንደሚቆረቆር ሰው በብሔራዊ ሻምፒዮናው ላይ ስለተመለከትኳቸው አዎንታዊ እና አሉታዊ ጎኖች ጥቂት አስተያየቶቼን እንደሚከተለው አስቀምጣለሁ፡- አዎንታዊ ጎኖች • ባለው ነባራዊ ሁኔታ ውስጥ ሊገጥሙ የሚችሉትን ተግዳሮቶች በሙሉ በመቋቋም ፌዴሬሽኑ ውድድሩን ከአዲስ አበባ ውጭ አካሂዶ በሰላም ማጠናቀቅ መቻሉ አንደኛው ስኬቱ ነው፡፡ • በሻምፒዮናው ላይ ጥቂት የማይባሉ ታዋቂ አትሌቶች በሀገሪቱ ትልቁ የአትሌቲክስ ፉክክር ላይ ተሳታፊ ሆነው ሲወዳደሩ መመልከት የተቻለ ሲሆን በተለይም በወንዶች 5000 ሜትር ፍፃሜ ላይ የታየው የኮከብ አትሌቶች ፉክክር ልዩ ነበር፡፡ • በውድድሩ ወቅት ለአትሌቲክስ ዳኞች የብቃት ማሻሻያ ስልጠና መሰጠቱም የውድድሩን ጥራት ለማሳደግ የሚረዳ እንደመሆኑ እሰየው የሚባል ነው፡፡ • እንደ ኢትዮ ኤሌክትሪክ ያሉት ክለቦች ለአትሌቲክስ ስፖርት የበለጠ ትኩረት በመስጠትና ተጠናክሮ በመቅረብ ከዚህ ቀደም በጠንካራነታቸው ከሚታወቁት መከላከያ እና ኢትዮጵያ ንግድ ባንክ ጋር የቅርብ ተፎካካሪ ሆነው መታየት፤ የኦሮሚያ ክልል፣ ደቡብ ፖሊስ እና ሲዳማ ቡና ክለብ አትሌቶችም ጠንካራ ተሳትፎ ሳይዘነጋ የሻምፒዮናው ፉክክር ድምቀት ነበሩ፡፡ • የአንዳንዶቹ ተገቢነት አጠያያቂ ቢሆንም ብዛት ያላቸው የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርዶች የተሻሻሉበት ውድድርም ነበር፡፡ አሉታዊ ጎኖች • የሀገሪቱ ትልቁ የአትሌቲክስ ውድድር ውጤት አሁንም በኤሌክትሮኒክስ የሰዓት መቆጣጠሪያ የማይደገፍ መሆኑ በተለይም በአጭር ርቀት እና በሜዳ ላይ ተግባራት ውድድሮች ላይ የሚሳተፉ አትሌቶች ልፋት ተገቢውን እውቅና እንዳያገኝ እያደረገ ይገኛል፡፡ የሻምፒዮናውን ውጤቶች በዘመናዊ እና ዓለም አቀፉን መለኪያ በሚያሟላ መልኩ አለመያዝ በአህጉራዊ እና አለም አቀፋዊ ውድድሮች ላይ ለተሳትፎ የሚያበቁ ውጤቶችን በማስመዝገቡ ረገድ የሚኖረው አሉታዊ ተፅዕኖ ከፍተኛ መሆኑ ከግምት ውስጥ ገብቶ አሁንም መፍትሄ ያልተበጀለት ጉዳይ ነው፡፡ • የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን ወደ ሚዲያ/ለአጠቃላዩ ሕዝብ የሚያስተላልፈው የመጀመሪያዎቹን ሶስት ደረጃዎች ይዘው የሚያጠናቅቁ አትሌቶችን ውጤት ብቻ መሆኑ አወዳዳሪው አካል የሚያደርገውን የራሱን ውድድርም ሆነ አትሌቶቹ የለፉበትን ውጤት ከማስተዋወቅ አኳያ በቂ አይደለም፡፡ • በወንዶች የጦር ውርወራ እና የሴቶች ምርኩዝ ዝላይ ብሔራዊ ሪኮርዶች እንደተመዘገቡ ይታመናል፤ በሴቶች 100ሜ መሰናክል እና የወንዶች 400ሜ መሰናክል የተመዘገቡት ሰዓቶችም የምንግዜውም ፈጣን ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ ነገር ግን ውድድሩ በኤሌክትሮኒክስ ታይሚንግ ያልተደገፈ እና የንፋስ ንባብ ያልነበረው መሆኑ ውጤቶቹ በዓለም አቀፍ ደረጃ ተቀባይነት እንዳይኖራቸው የሚያደርግ ነው። • በ20 ኪ.ሜ የእርምጃ ውድድር ላይ በሁለቱም ፆታዎች የተመዘገቡት ሰዓቶች ከሚጠበቀው በላይ እጅግ በጣም ፈጣን እና እውነታዊ አለመምሰላቸው በውድድሩ ላይ የተፈጠረ አንዳች ስህተት መኖሩን የሚያመላክቱ መሆኑ፡፡ እንዲህ አይነት ለማመን የሚከብዱ እና ጥርጣሬን የሚፈጥሩ አይነት ውጤቶች ሲመዘገቡም የተፈጠረ ስህተት መኖር አለመኖሩን ለማጣራት አለመሞከሩ፡፡ • የሴቶች 10 ኪሎ ሜትር ውድድር ላይ ለውድድር የማይፈቀድ የጎዳና ላይ መሮጫ ጫማን በመጠቀም የተመዘገበ ውጤት በሪኮርድነት ጭምር ተይዞ መፅደቁ። ብሔራዊ ፌዴሬሽኑ ከተከለከሉ ጫማዎች ጋር የተያያዙ ዓለም አቀፍ ሕገ ደንቦችን ማወቅና መተግበር ቢገባውም በሴቶች 10 ሺህ ሜትር ውድድር ላይ የተከሰተው ነገር የውድድር ሕገ ደንቦቹ መረጃ በፌዴሬሽኑ ውስጥ በትክክል የተሰራጩ እንዳልሆነ የሚያመላከት ነው፡፡ • በሴቶች 1500 ሜትር የግማሽ ፍፃሜ ውድድር ላይ አትሌት ዳዊት ስዩም የሻምፒዮናውን ሪኮርድ ያሻሻለችበት ውጤት እንደተመዘገበ በውድድሩ ወቅት በተደጋጋሚ ሲነገር ከተደመጠ በኋላ ግልፅ ባልተደረገ ምክንያት ውጤቱ በሐዋሳው ውድድር ላይ ተሻሻሉ ከተባሉት የሻምፒዮናው አዲስ ሪኮርዶች ዝርዝር ውስጥ ሳይካተት መቅረቱም የፌዴሬሽኑን ግልፀኝነት ጥያቄ ምልክት ውስጥ የሚከት ነው፡፡ ከላይ የተዘረዘሩት አዎንታዊ እና አሉታዊ ጎኖች ለረጅም ግዜ የኢትዮጵያን አትሌቲክስ ስፖርት እንቅስቃሴዎች በቅርበት ከመከታተሌ አንፃር በራሴ እይታ ያስቀመጥኳቸው እንደመሆናቸው አንዳንዶቹ ሀሳቦች አከራካሪ ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ ሆኖም የውድድር ደንቦችን በአግባቡ ከማስፈፀም አኳያ በታዩት ክፍተቶች ዙሪያ ምንም የሚያከራክር ጉዳይ ስለሌለ በወቅታዊ የውድድር ደንቦች ዙሪያ የግንዛቤ እጥረት ላለባቸው የስፖርቱ ባለድርሻ አካላት በሙሉ አስፈላጊውን ገለፃ እና ትምህርት መስጠት የፌዴሬሽኑ ኃላፊነት ነው፡፡ ከውድድር ጋር የተያያዙ ደንቦችን ከመጣስ አኳያ በሀገር ውስጥ በሚደረጉ ውድድሮች እንደቀላል ነገር የሚታለፉ ጉዳዮች በዓለም አቀፍ ውድድሮች ላይም ተደግመው እንደግል አትሌቶችን እንደቡድን ሀገርን ትልቅ ዋጋ ሊያስከፍሉ ይችላሉና አስፈላጊው ጥንቃቄ ቢደረግ መልካም ነው፡፡ ባለፈው መስከረም ወር በቪየና ሲቲ ማራቶን ውድድሩን በአሸናፊነት ጨርሶ የነበረው ኢትዮጵያዊው ደራራ ሁሪሳ የገጠመውን አንዘንጋው! ሀገራችን ኢትዮጵያን በመልካም ጎኑ ስሟ እንዲነሳ በሚያደርገው እና በትልልቅ ዓለም አቀፍ የውድድር መድረኮች ላይ የኩራታችን ምንጭ በሆነው የአትሌቲክስ ስፖርት እንደጎረቤታችን ኬንያ ዓለም አቀፍ ውድድሮችን የማስተናገድ የብቃት ደረጃ ላይ ደርሰን ማየት የዘወትር ምኞቴ ነው፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌደሬሽንም የውድድሮቹን ጥራት ለማሻሻል በትኩረት እንደሚሰራ ተስፋ አደርጋለሁ።
በመጨረሻም በሀዋሳ በተካሄደው 51ኛዉ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ከመሮጫ ጫማ ጋር የተያያዙ ደንቦችን በማስከበሩ ረገድ የተፈጠረውን ክፍተት እንደማስተማሪያ ብንጠቀምበት በሚል የሚከተለውን ለማለት ወደድኩ፡-
የመሮጫ ጫማ ደንቦች ለትራክ ውድድር
64 ደቂቃ ከ14 ሰከንድ በሆነ ሰዓት የዘንድሮ የራስ አል ካይማህ የግማሽ ማራቶን ውድድር አሸናፊ የሆነችው ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር በሐዋሳ በተከናወነው 51ኛው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ላይ 31 ደቂቃ ከ21.5 ሰከንድ በመግባት የ10,000ሜ. አሸናፊ ሆናለች፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽንም ዓለም አቀፉን ደንብ ከግምት ባላስገባ ሁኔታ ውጤቱን በአዲስ የሻምፒዮንሺፕ ሪኮርድነት ጭምር አፅድቆት አልፏል፡፡ ይሁን እንጂ መጋቢት 20/2014 በተደረገው የሴቶች የፍፃሜ ፉክክር ላይ በኢትዮጵያ ምድር የተመዘገበ የምንግዜውም ፈጣን የሴቶች 10 ሺህ ሜትር ሰዓት የሆነው ውጤት በአለም አትሌቲክስ ዘንድ እውቅና ሊሰጠው የማይችል ነው።
አትሌቷ የሶል ውፍረቱ 40ሚሜ የሆነ ዙምኤክስ ቬፐርፍላይ (ZoomX Vaporfly) ጫማ አድርጋ በመወዳደሯ ምክንያት።
● ደንቡ ምን ይላል?
በትራክ ውድድሮች ላይ የሚፈቀደው ከፍተኛው የሶል ውፍረት ፡-
– 20ሚሜ ከ 800ሜ በታች ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እና ለሁሉም የሜዳ ላይ ተግባራት (ከስሉስ ዝላይ በስተቀር)
– 25ሚሜ ለ800ሜ እና ከዛ በላይ ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እንዲሁም ለስሉስ ዝላይ
– 40ሚሜ ለትራክ ላይ የእርምጃ ውድድሮች
እነዚህ ደንቦች እ.ኤ.አ. እስከ ኦክቶበር 31, 2024 ድረስ በሥራ ላይ ይውላሉ። ከኖቬምበር 1 ቀን 2024 ጀምሮ ለ800ሜ እና ከዚያ በላይ ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እንዲሁም ለስሉስ ዝላይ የሚፈቀደው ከፍተኛ የሶል ውፍረትም ወደ 20 ሚሜ ዝቅ የሚል ይሆናል።
● የትራክ ላይ መወዳደሪያ ስፓይክ ጫማ ከሌለኝስ?
ደንቡ የጎዳና ላይ የመሮጫ ጫማዎች በትራክ ላይ እንዳይደረጉ አይከለክልም ነገር ግን በ25 ሚሊ ሜትሩ ገደብ ምክንያት 30 ሚሜ ወይም 40 ሚሜ የሆኑ የጎዳና ላይ መሮጫ ጫማዎች በትራክ ውድድሮች ላይ እንዲደረጉ አይፈቅድም፡፡
● ለበለጠ መረጃ :-
On the TPLF’s Love Affair With ‘Genocide’
Today, the joint investigation report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and the UNHR
on human rights violations committed in Tigray concluded that there is no evidence that genocide has taken place so far. While this is a bit of a setback for the TPLF, which has wanted the world to believe—since the 1990s, even as the TPLF was dominating power in Addis—that a genocide has been perpetrated against the people of Tigray, unfortunately the group still appears to be determined to make genocide a reality. This is confusing for people who don’t understand why the TPLF is obsessed with genocide, why its internet cadres began using #TigrayGenocide in April 2020, months before the war began. So many weapons have been deployed in this war, and among them: confusion and obfuscation.
In the past several months and more so in the past few weeks, we have been getting
testimony after testimony from allied Amhara forces fighting the TPLF that Tigrayan residents of cities in Wollo have been collaborating with the TPLF by a) attacking ENDF and allied forces from behind; b) forcing ENDF and allied forces to withdraw from towns and cities afraid of committing large scale massacres by firing back at the civilians (Tigrayans) firing at them; c) helping the TPLF locate and execute young Amharas believed to be a threat; and d) in at least one horrifying account by an IDP who managed to escape occupied territories, handing TPLF soldiers a list of women to rape. Another shocking development in the past several months has been the widespread use of child soldiers by the TPLF, which, according to experts who have studied the practice, is an “alarm bell” calling attention to possible plans to commit mass atrocities. The use of child soldiers by the TPLF and its attendant implications, along with the widespread deployment of civilian sleeper agents in Amhara cities the TPLF has taken over, serves to create an overall perception of every Tigrayan as a potential enemy, sowing fear and mistrust.
Many Ethiopians are looking at this and wondering: why are Tigrayan elites on the internet
either celebrating the TPLF’s advance via these toxic methods or silent about all this? How can they not see how dangerous this is for everyone, especially for Tigrayans who live outside Tigray? How can they not see that there is no “winning” after stoking all this lasting animosity? Do Tigrayan elites not understand that there can be no justice for Tigray—whether Tigray secedes or not—unless there is justice for her neighbors, for Tigray does not exist in a vacuum? The questions are being asked but nobody is answering them. Our academic class has largely failed to offer viable analyses of the ideas driving this war, as they failed over the past fifty years in regards to coming up with a fitting paradigm for understanding Ethiopia’s unique situation.
Here is my humble attempt to explain what I think is happening with the TPLF’s obsession
with—and with its active attempt to inspire—genocide:
The most successful psychopaths in any field understand that, in order to win anything, one
must risk everything, including the very thing one is supposedly fighting for. In the case of the
TPLF (and associated Tigrayan political elites), whose motto appears to be “give me supremacy or give me death,” that “everything” they are risking is the lives of ordinary Tigrayans in whose names they are fighting. We have seen over the past several months the extent to which the TPLF is willing to go to sacrifice ordinary Tigrayans in order to get what it wants: wave after wave after wave of young poorly armed and inexperienced Tigrayans were unleashed upon ENDF and Amhara and Afar forces in order to force the latter to waste ammunition and energy before the more experienced soldiers are sent.
So, for a political group who sends tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of
young Tigrayans towards open fire, violence against hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans is nothing if it means the TPLF will in the end win the “prize” it has been obsessed with for decades: genocide. You see, merely attaining power in Addis Ababa is not enough for the TPLF, whose core driving ideology is Tigrayan supremacy. Power is temporary; anybody can take it away from you, and the 2018 uprisings demonstrated that. Genocide is forever. Nobody can take away from you the story of genocide committed against your people.
The TPLF looked at countries like Israel and Rwanda and realized what a potent instrument
genocide is for establishing perpetual minority rule. We have some indications suggesting that the TPLF views Israel as a model. When the war between Ethiopia and the TPLF began in November 2020, Sekoutoure Getachew, a TPLF official, went on TV to tell us that the TPLF’s decision to launch a preemptive attack on the Northern Command was inspired by how the young state of Israel, feeling threatened by her neighbors, launched preemptive attacks against them in the “six-day war” of 1967. Another indication is the manner in which the TPLF, during its 27 years in power, invested heavily in creating a wealthy and strongly networked Tigrayan diaspora which has been used to lobby and influence western governments and organizations much in the same way as the Jewish diaspora aids the state of Israel. The TPLF has figured out that truth does not matter in politics, especially in international politics. If you have the wealth and the personnel to peddle your preferred narrative, if you have the military power to subdue the people you want to subdue, if you are willing to make concessions to external forces (US, Egypt, etc), you can do unspeakable things to others (much like the state of Israel does to Palestinians) and still manage to portray yourself as the victim.
This calculation is so far working for the TPLF, but nothing would seal the deal like the actual
commission of genocide—or something that looks like it—against Tigrayans. As we have seen over the past twelve months, western governments and organizations have shown their willingness to adopt TPLF’s narratives without scrutiny and can easily reward the TPLF with its much pursued prize, genocide, even if actual genocide doesn’t take place.
But why does the TPLF need genocide to establish minority rule? Because, as we saw in their
first tenure in power, you can only rule with an iron fist for a limited period of time. Leaders of the TPLF are adherents of Tigrayan supremacy: the idea that Tigrayans, as the “only” heirs of the Axumite empire, are the natural rulers of the Ethiopian state, and cannot be ruled by “barbarians” south of them. The only acceptable power arrangement for the TPLF is one in which Tigrayans are either directly dominating political power or are the perpetual kingmakers pulling all the major strings. Anything outside that, any system that forces Tigrayans to live on equal footing with everyone else, is unacceptable. And this kind of domination by a minority cannot coexist with a democratic system that the majority of Ethiopians clearly prefer. So, the TPLF needs something more potent than pure political/economic/military power to justify bypassing democracy to establish itself as the permanent ruler/kingmaker of Ethiopia. It needs a new and powerful raison d’être to justify its domination not just to Tigrayans and the rest of Ethiopians but, and most importantly, to the rest of the world. If a genocide were to be committed against Tigrayans (or if the U.S. decides to reward the TPLF with the genocide label even in the absence of it), then the TPLF can license itself to impose all manner of drastic measures aimed at “protecting Tigray and
Tigrayans.” This could be anything from redrawing internal borders (and taking debilitating
measures against the peoples whose lands are being robbed—most likely Amharas and Afaris—so that they will never be in a position to assert themselves) to ethnic cleansing and genocide against populations considered to be a threat. And when you oppose it, the TPLF will say “you committed a genocide against Tigrayans” over and over and over, and its western backers will repeat the same chorus. If they have been this loud over a non-existent genocide over the past twelve months, just imagine what it would be like if the U.S. or UN rewards them with that label.
And this is where the Ethiopian government’s major dilemma comes from: if ENDF and
Amhara forces fight to regain their cities and towns, they risk committing large scale massacres. The TPLF networks reported to be operating within these cities wear civilian clothing and fire at the armies from inside civilian establishments, in an apparent attempt to set up pro-Ethiopia forces. Pro-Ethiopia forces are essentially being dared to commit large scale massacres in order to win back their own cities. So far, they are choosing to withdraw from these towns and cities. But that is another problem: not only is the TPLF committing unspeakable violence against civilians and destroying infrastructure in those cities, the takeovers are emboldening it to continue pressing, giving young people back in Tigray false hope that they are winning and—this is very important—the false idea that they are being “welcomed” by locals in those cities. Then more and more and more young Tigrayans are sent to their deaths.
So the Ethiopian government is stuck between a rock and a hard place. One option is
allowing its forces to do whatever it takes to take back territory, thereby offering protection to its citizens in Wollo and elsewhere, but also risking the “genocide” label by western governments who have been eagerly waiting for such an opportunity so that they can blackmail the government into submitting itself to their wishes on GERD and other issues. Option two is avoiding large scale violence and allowing the TPLF to take power in Addis Ababa and do to Ethiopia what it wishes. One of the things it might do to Ethiopia, according to its leaked strategy document, is force a confederation that will no doubt privilege some states, i.e. Tigray, more than others, and that will no doubt be designed to subdue some populations—mainly Amharas and Afaris—who are considered obstacles to Tigray’s aspirations of domination and expansion (in the TPLF’s original manifesto, Afar is claimed as Tigray land).
And there is absolutely no doubt that the TPLF will make big concessions on the GERD in
order to compensate its western and Egyptian backers, if not redraw borders to make Benishangul Gumuz Tigrayan territory. If you think this is wild, read about the history of the state of Israel, the TPLF’s model state. The redrawing of borders that the TPLF undertook in 1991 was also wild at the time; people don’t think of it as outrageous anymore because the fact that they held onto the territory for 30 years has normalized the event in our minds. And that’s all the TPLF needs: another thirty years to normalize all the outrageous things they will do next.
One may argue that this is a false dichotomy, that there is a third or even maybe fourth option: winning these cities back without mass violence much in the same way the ENDF managed to do during its first campaign in Tigray. We all should pray for such a miracle, of course. However, one can also say that in the early days of the war, the TPLF was mostly withdrawing from Tigrayan cities to avoid urban warfare. And even when they engaged in urban warfare, it was not at the same scale and intensity as has been the case over the past four and half months or so. Starting in mid June, the TPLF’s use of civilians as human shields and fighters stopped being just another weapon in its arsenal and became a center of its operations. The near collapse of the ENDF inside Tigray right before its withdrawal was precipitated by the TPLF’s intensified use of “civilians” to trap the ENDF. Many ENDF soldiers chose to surrender rather than fire at those “civilians.” It is still possible to avoid large scale violence in the attempt to retake towns in Wollo, but the risk for it is very high, and is possibly behind the federal government’s reluctance to take decisive actions.
The point is: barring miracles, the Ethiopian government is positioned to lose something
one way or another. All that is left is choosing its preferred poison. Perhaps one thing to consider for the federal government is: the rights of Amharas and Afaris to defend themselves against the existential threats posed against them by the TPLF is much bigger than the national government’s concerns about its place and relationships with the rest of the world. If the federal government decides to risk the disintegration of Ethiopia, like it has done so far either due to incompetence or severe fear of committing large scale violence, that is fine for the federal government. But when you allow that disintegration to happen, please don’t leave the people of Amhara and Afar in a vulnerable position, unable to defend themselves and their lands. If we must return to the State of Nature, at least give these two peoples, who have so far shed more blood than anyone else in defense of their country, a chance to preserve their lives and their lands. Give them the resources they need to defend themselves before it is too late for them even if you feel it is too late for Ethiopia. Anything less is just a continuation of the gross criminal negligence that the federal government has been guilty of so far.
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