Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Prefontaine Classic: World Record Holder Zeresenay Tadesse comes to the USA.

     As the celebrations for Eritrea's 20 years of independence continue throughout the summer, the work of Eritrean athletes at the international stage especially in running continues. This weekend alone three Eritrean runners Eshak Abraham, Solomon Meherteab and Oqubit Berhane all had excellent results in three different events. Eshak Abraham who was making his debut at the Comacina Race in Italy won the race as an underdog while Solomon Meherteab took second place at the 10K London Bupa classic, meanwhile Oqubit Berhane sporting his Eritrean national color jersey won the Swiss half Marathon race with a time of 1 hour and 16 minutes.  The story of Eritrea's running success is something to be proud of as the sport is somewhat new for this northeast African nation that makes Cycling and soccer it's number one sport. 

     The successful campaign for the sport of running in Eritrea which started in the early 2000 by an organization known as EAAA(Eritrean American Athletics Association) and the Eritrean Athletics federation has produced some great athletes. While Meb Kiflezghi continues to be the best American long distance runner at the moment since Steve Prefontaine, Frank Shorter, and Alberto Salazar, the world record holder in the Half Marathon Zeresenay Tadesse is the biggest name athlete to come out of Eritrea. Zeresenay a humble and wise human being won the bronze medal in the 10,000 meter in Athens in his first debut at the Olympics while Meb too silver in the marathon representing the USA. 

     Meanwhile the heart warming story of Steve Prefontaine an American icon of the sport in the 1970's is something that touches the human spirit. You see this young man was to the sport of running what Michael Jordan was to the sport of basketball. Prefontaine broke all kinds of records and was an international sports hero for many athletes. In his home state of Oregon he became a legend and today the town of Eugene home to the University of Oregon serves as running and athletics international center. Steve Prefontaine died in a car accident on May 30th, 1975 at the very young and tender age of 24 years. His legacy as a running legend however continues to this date and in his home state of Oregon each year since his death a track and field event known as the PREFONTAINE CLASSIC takes place.

     In what will be an awesome competition of the best runners in the world on Friday June 3rd, 2011 at this years portion of the Prefontaine Classic many top notch long distance runners from Ethiopia, Kenya and other countries will be competing along side of Eritrea's top runners. Zeresenay Tadesse along with brother Kidane Tadesse and Teklemariam Medhin will be going at it in the 10,000 meter run. As in the Athens Olympics the Ethiopian squad will be lead by Sileshi Sihne and a few more new runners, while the Kenyans will be lead by John Cheriyuot and Danile Salel after the very sad death last week of Sam Wanjiru. Wanjiru was probably the best representative of the new generation runners for Kenya and the actual sport of running alongside Zeresenay and others. May he rest in peace.
     This event will be televised on NBC sports and while NBC will air Saturday's activities Live, we will have to wait and see how the 10,000 meters event will fare on Friday evening. The meet which takes place in Hayward near Eugene Oregon is open to the public and those who live nearby can go and see the Eritrean contingent. The 10,000 meter begins at 8:50 PM in the evening. Mean while here is a list of the competition field,

10,000 METERS  
Zersenay Tedese (Eritrea)
Sileshe Sihine (Ethiopia)
Imane Merga (Ethiopia)
Aylele Abshero (Ethiopia)
Abebe Dinkesa (Ethiopia)
Abera Kuma (Ethiopia)
Daniel Salel (Kenya)
Lucas Rotich (Kenya)
Teklemariam Mehdin (Eritrea)
Kidane Tadesse (Eritrea)
John Kemboi Cheruyiot (Kenya)
Shawn Forrest (Australia)
Reid Coolsaet (Canada)
Leonard Komon (Kenya)
Matthew Kisorio (Kenya)
Paul Tanui (Kenyan)
Ali Mahboob (Bahrain)
Josphat Bett (Kenya)
Mohammad Ali Aboosh (Ethiopia)
Micah Kogo (Kenya)
Moses Masai (Kenya)
Joseph Ebuya (Kenya)
Mike Kigen (Kenya)
Dennis Masai (Kenya)
Abdi Abdirahman
Dejene Gebremeskel (Ethiopia)

For more information and schedule just click on the following website link for the Prefontaine Classic

Welcome to the USA Zeresenay Tadesse, Kidane Tadesse and Teklemariam Medhin and good luck. Meanwhile to the rest of Eritrean runners who are pouring in the awards congratulations! May the 2011 London Olympics bring gold, silver and bronze for Eritrea. To quote the runner whose name this event is named after Steve Prefontaine "A lot of people run a race to see who is the fastest, I run to see who has the most guts" and we shall wait and see who has the most guts.

For Eri-International sports
Mike Seium                                                                                                                               

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