Ethiopia has announced that it will send a 46-strong contingent to the Montreal Olympics where its long distance runners are expected to maintain their high reputation.
Ethiopia has announced that it will send a 46-strong contingent to the Montreal Olympics where its long distance runners are expected to maintain their high reputation. A barefoot victory in the Rome marathon in 1960 by the late Abebbe Bikila staked Ethiopia's original claim to Olympic fame and this year its athletes will again be seeking honours in the long distance events. Preparations for the games have been in progress for more than a year but one month ago, Ethiopian athletes intensified their training.
SYNOPSIS: They were joined by several athletes from Sudan as they went through their paces in Addis Ababa. The Sudanese runners have their eyes on the 400 metres and other short events while the Ethiopians are hoping to maintain their superiority over the longer distances. The Marathon has been the favourite Ethiopian sport since Bikila took the gold medal on Rome and won the top prize again four years later in Tokyo. Ethiopia won its third Olympic gold medal in Mexico and a bronze at Munich. According to athletics coach Negussie Roba, Ethiopia's mountainous terrain and altitude, and the still-strong tradition of walking long distances, have combined to produce the strong long-distance runner. He said this was one of the reasons Sudanese athletes preferred to train in Addis Ababa which is 8,000 feet (1,500 metres above sea level)
For the Montreal Olympics, the Ethiopian athletes are a new young breed. But three names have been called as possibles for the marathon gold. They are Gebre Gumru, Tadesse Tsetergachew and Dereje Nedi. The trio showed their potential when they came in first, second and third in the recent East and Central African championships in Zanzibar. They took the three marathon slots in the Ethiopian contingent for Montreal from 75 other competitors. Gumru is fresh to international sport but his coach rates him among the best marathon men in the world. Tsetergachew has a little more experience than Gumru, and Nedi, at 22, has youth firmly on his side.