Running Eritrea: The Emergence of a new running nation.
When most people think of long distance running and Africa, the nations that come to mind quick are Kenya & Ethiopia. These two nations have dominated the long distance sport for many decades and continue these days to be top long distance running nations in the world just like they were more than 50 years ago. In the early 2000's however a nation less than 15 years independent and known more for soccer & cycling was starting to get some attention internationally and in North America. It was in the mid 1990’s when a young Eritrean-American who migrated here at a young age and picked up the sport of running in the American inter scholastic system took the college running scene by storm. Meb Kiflezghi broke all kinds of records at UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) and became one of the best runners in the history of the sport. Another Eritrean who also pioneered the growth of the sport Bolota Asmerom run for University of California at Berkley and represented Eritrea in international competition.
The blogger with Olympic medalist & NYC marathon defending Champ.
Other runners also qualified and represented Eritrea from the U.S. A. Meanwhile in Eritrea the sport of running started to get some attention. The organization known as Eritrean American Athletics Association lead by Yohanness Debesai and other Eritreans who had different roles was officially established in the city of Atlanta during the Eritrean Sports Festival annual event that took place in the year 2001. The likes of Zeresenay Tadesse, Yared Asmerom, Samuel Tsegai, Ali Abdella Afringi, Yonas kifle, Kidane Tadesse and more runners including female runners like Simret Sultan, Nebiat Habtemariam, & Furtuna Zegergish started to make headlines.
VOTE for Zeresenay: See link below. The Pride of the Running Nation.
As most of us know since then with the collaboration of EAAA and the Eritrean National Sports Federation, the country continues to produce more top notch long distance runners that are bringing amazing results. It is also to be known that many other runners of Eritrean heritage have excelled in different parts of the world including Canada’s top runner Simon Bairu who was an NCAA champion at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Many more youngsters male and female have attended college through scholarship as a result of the growth of the sport. See a clip below titled Rookies vs the world where a very articulate Simon Bairu is featured.
Most Athletics competitions particularly the sport of running is very interactive. People learn from observing and following them sometimes unconsciously. The running euphoria that has taken Eritreans by surprise in the past decade is not any different. Eritreans and the international community have started to witness, to watch, to understand and experience the logic behind the very quick success of Eritrean runners who have been registering amazing results in many competitions throughout the world. Like everything else in Eritrea the development of running is starting to be witnessed everywhere.
Though it garners less attention than cycling & soccer, thousands of Eritreans throughout the world are already passionate about, and conversant in the sport of running. In fact, it may well be the most closely followed sport at the moment as a result of the success stories of the greatest runner to come out of Eritrea Zeresenay Tadesse. Here are updates, highlights and important information for all fans as the New York City and Frankfurt Marathons are approaching us very soon.
* The MEB foundation will be inaugurated in New York City on Wed. November the 3rd, 2010. The foundation initiated by New York City Marathon defending champion Meb Kiflezghi will be a great source of inspiration for health and competition running. MEB other than the name stands for Maintain Excellent Balance.
* The IAAF is the international Athletics Association Federation, which is the governing body of athletics.
* Currently there are 99 Eritrean Male runners and 39 Female runners whose information can be found on the IAAF website. This can be found by clicking athletes and choosing the country of Eritrea and then clicking on the Eritrean athlete you would like to learn about.
* Also by clicking on the IAAF website while you are at it VOTE! VOTE! For Zeresenay Tadesse whose accomplishments this year have been AWESOME! He deserves the “MALE ATHELETE OF THE YEAR” award. Three people will be chosen and we shall find out who the final winner will be in November. Click on the following link and VOTE!
VOTE! VOTE!VOTE!VOTE! VOTE! ZERESENAY
* Meb Kiflezghi along with Simon Bairu both top runners in the U.S and Canada will be competeing in the New York City Marathon on November 7th, 2010. Meb will be defending his title while this is the first competition ever in the marathon for Simon Bairu. Both Athtletes are NCAA champions at UCLA and University of Wisconsin in Madison.
* Yared Asmerom will be competing in the Frankfurt Marathon coming up this weekend October 31st, 2010.
* Beraki Beyene Zerea finished in the top 10 in the Toronto Marathon in September qualifying for the London Olympics in 2012 with a time of 2:11:22 He has also taken third in the Hamburg Marathon in Germany and has quickly improved his time. His potential is unlimited.
Beraki Beyene Zerea the great Eritrean hope.
* In the high school and college scene Shewit Weldensea has been showing some great success in the Raleigh North Carolina, winning several competitions while Meron Fessehaye also in the North Carolina (Charlotte) doing very well. We will try to feature more high school runners as we gather more information. Mean while both Shewit and Meron will be competing in major events this week. The Unique part about Shewit is she has been very successful finishing in the top 10 in the 1500-meter, which is considered more of a middle distance running.
* Petros Welday from Maryland is also showing a lot of potential finshing in top spot at a recently held national footlocker running event. If there are any Eritrea runners who are doing well please don't hesitate to contact us and respond back to this blog.
Abrar Ousman Not the singer but as you can see the 3000 meter Youth Olympic Champion.
It is also to be remembered that this past September Eritrea stood first in the 26th World Mountain Running Championship that was held in Slovenia in which over 120 athletes from 40 countries took part. In the men’s race covering 12 kilometers, Eritrean athletes finished 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th and 12th respectively. Eritrea stood first followed by USA and Italy. Similarly, Eritrean athlete Yosef Andemichael won gold medal in the 8.5 Km-long similar junior men’s race. Meanwhile in Singapore at the 2010 Youth Olympics, ERITREA'S ABRAR OSMAN Crossed the FINISH LINE to win GOLD MEDAL IN THE MEN'S 3000M FINAL SINGAPORE 2010 YOUTH OLYMPIC GAME. Abrar Ousman took most Eritreans by storm when his name was all over newspapers and websites. Some thought there was a mishap since his namesake is one of the top Eritreans singers. See his excellent win on the link below. Eri-International sports is proud of all the hard work and dedication of Eritrean athletes.
Abrar Ousman winning the 3000 meters in Singapore.
The writer of this blog is the current Information officer for EAAA.
Eri-International sports blog would also like to congratulate Merhawi Kiflezghi the brother of Meb for working very hard to help up and coming Eritrean and non-Eritrean athletes through his sports management company known as Hawi Sports management. Merhawi began his career as a student manager for the UCLA Men’s basketball team from 1999-2002; Hawi was critical to the team’s success as a consistently top ranked NCAA team. His experience on the court merged with his studies off the court as he went on to receive a B.A in Communication Studies from UCLA and a J.D. (Juris Doctor) Law degree from UCLA School of law will help out his Eritrean and non-Eritrean clients and partners.
Eritrea's Struggle to Survive