Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ethiopia honours Olympic heroes in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia- The Ethiopian Olympic Committee (EOC) at a ceremony on Sunday (25) honoured the country’s Olympic medallists and five individuals for their contributions to the Olympic movement.

Those honoured:

Olympic medallists
Posthumously - Abebe Bikila, Mamo Wolde
Present at ceremony - Miruts Yifter, Eshetu Tura, Addis Abebe, Fita Bayissa, Gete Wami, Million Wolde, Assefa Mezgebu, Tesfaye Tola, Meseret Defar, Ejegayehou Dibaba,
Absent from ceremony - Derartu Tulu, Fatuma Roba, Haile Gebrselassie, Gezhagne Abera, Kenenisa Bekele, Sileshi Sihine, Tirunesh Dibaba

Contributions to the Olympic movement
The five individuals are: Dr. Woldemeskel Kostre (Coach), Fikrou Kidane (Journalist/Administrator/Advisor), Yidnekachew Tessema (Administrator), Ayalew Tilahun (Medical), and Demessie Damte (Journalist)

At the ceremony held at the Sheraton Addis, the awardees were each presented golden placards in recognition of their performances and their outstanding performances. The ceremony was attended by the country’s head of state President Girma Woldegiorgis and head of government Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

In his keynote address, Woldegiorgis said of the medallists, “They have made the country proud. They are ambassadors of the country in the field of international sport and have raised the country’s national flag on the world’s stage. We are all proud of them.”

A special award was also presented to Shekih Mohammed Alamoudi, Africa’s only Fortune-500 Billionaire and Ethiopia’s most affluent man, for his contribution to the development of Ethiopian sport.

On a night that doubled as a fundraising event to raise money for Ethiopia’s Olympic participation in Beijing in August this year, Alamoudi was the largest contributor of the evening with ETB 5million (around USD 535,000). The EOC raised over ETB 13.5 million (USD 1.44 million) exceeding its target USD 11 million (1.18 million) in just under three hours of aggressive fund-rai

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ethopian stars take first in Buffalo Marathon

Sunday’s running of the Buffalo Marathon had a definite Ethiopian flavor to it. The men’s and women’s winners were both from that African country. Habtamu Bekele won the men’s race in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 5 seconds. Meserte Kotu took the women’s race in a course-record time of 2:43:10; the previous mark was 2:44:57 set by Beth Anne De- Ciantis in 1991.

Kotu was far too good for the field, taking the victory by more than 10 minutes over defending champion Jessica Allen. Kotu has a personal best of 2:30:02, so she figured to be a top contender Sunday. Kotu finished an impressive eighth overall.

“She was great. I’m honored to even share the same turf,” said Allen, who finished in 2:54:48 –almost two minutes faster than her winning time in 2007. “That’s pretty cool. It’s pretty prestigious for Buffalo to get such a runner from so far away.”

Allen said it took Kotu a while to get ahead, but there was no catching her once she moved in front around the 11-mile mark.

“She broke away right after Tifft Farms –pretty much at the bridge coming back into the First Ward,” said Allen, of Hampton Bays, L. I. “That’s where I started to be by myself.”

Allen held off Jennifer Boerner (2:58:14) of Amherst for second place.

Kotu does not speak English and thus was unavailable for interviews. She had the most profitable day of any of the participants, earning $2,000 for the victory plus $1,000 for the course record.

Bekele, who runs out of Marietta, Ga., won by a a relatively comfortable 16 seconds. Jason Lokwatom, a Kenyan running out of Troy, Ohio, was second at 2:26:21.

Bekele has raced throughout the world. He ran the 26-mile, 385-yard distance in an impressive 2:10:43 during the 2003 Rome Marathon. Bekele was second in the Bermuda Marathon earlier this year, finishing in 2:31:26. He ran a 2:26:19 in Atlanta early in April.

Bekele speaks little English, but he did say that he was “very, very happy about winning” and that the Buffalo course was “very good.”

Andrew Carnes of Canton, Ohio, had the lead in the race through the 10-mile mark, but went out too fast then faded under some persistent pressure of the lead pack. Carnes was fourth in 2:33:28. Darrin Pocza of Bemus Point was the top Western New York runner at 2:51:18, placing 12th.

In the masters division, James Derick of Big Flats was the men’s victor in 2:40:40. Gina McGee of Johnstown, Pa., won the women’s division in 2:59:28.

Mackey Tyndall of Panama City, Fla., was the fastest wheelchair competitor in a time of 2:06:59.

“It was a great day,” he said. “The roads were a little rough, but it was a flat, smooth course. I had a pretty good pace. I got a little bit fatigued at the end, but it was a good time overall.”

Tyndall is a retired Air Force captain whose injuries led to doctors doing two total hip replacements and the placement of a metal rod and some screws in his back. This was his sixth marathon of the year, and he says wheelchair athletes have gotten plenty of exposure in events like the Boston Marathon.

“It’s gotten a lot bigger, especially because of the military factor,” he said. “Last year at the Marine Corps [race in Washington], there were double the amount of hand-cycles. The hand-cycles are getting more popular, because of the ease of going from an injury to hand-cycle as opposed to a push-chair.”

In the half-marathon, Fernando Cabada showed why he is considered one of the top distance runners in America. He ran the 13.1-mile course in 1:08:52 to win. Cabada, running out of Boulder, Colo., ran his first-ever marathon in 2:12:26 in 2006. On the women’s side, Natasha Filliol won in 1:22:59. A native of Paris, Ont., she is one of Canada’s top triathletes.

By almost any definition, it was about a perfect morning for running, with sunshine and temperatures in the 50s. Some wind may have kept the times down just a bit.

Race director John Beishline said the final total of entrants was more than 3,000. That’s a big jump from last year’s 2,200.

Men’s Marathon

1. Habtamu Bekele 2:26:05

2. Jason Lokwatom 2:26:21

3. Paul Simboli 2:27:06

4. Andrew Carnes 2:33:28

5. Samson Mulli 2:33:49

6. Gerardo Avila 2:34:26

7. James Derick 2:40:40

8. Benson Osoro 2:44:16

9. Nelson Chavez 2:45:42

10. John Piggott 2:49:46

11. Mark Looney 2:51:11

12. Darrin Pocza 2:51:18

13. Gary Cattarin 2:54:12

14. Daniel Garrett 2:54:18

15. Derek Dunstan 2:54:22

16. Adam Bross 2:58:47

17. Christopher Ciamarra 2:58:54

18. Doug Hall 2:59:07

19. Craig Rudzinski 2:59:41

20. Christopher Occhino 2:59:46

Women’s Marathon

1. Meserte Kotu 2:43:10

2. Jessica Allen 2:54:48

3. Jennifer Boerner 2:58:14

4. Katherine Danner-Aldri 2:58:34

5. Gina McGee 2:59:28

6. Jill Skivington 2:59:35

7. Tammy Slusser 3:01:41

8. Jennifer McNutt 3:05:37

9. Michele Chille 3:18:32

10. Lisa Benzer 3:18:40

11. Emily Johnston 3:19:23

12. Katherine Fredlund 3:22:26

13. Mary LeBrun 3:22:37

14. Jackie Horvath 3:25:39

15. Kimberly Schenk 3:25:52

16. Kim Whitaker 3:26:00

17. Danielle Harmon 3:26:07

18. Kristin Winiewicz 3:26:16

19. Laura Richenderfer 3:26:59

20. Rosemary Wedlake 3:29:04

Men’s Half-Marathon

1. Fernando Cabada 1:08:52

2. Bryan Morseman 1:09:27

3. Anthony Gitay 1:10:39

4. David Rappleyea 1:11:45

5. Brandon Moen 1:12:18

6. Matthew Glynn 1:12:21

7. Derrick Jones 1:12:43

8. Esteban Vanegas 1:13:51

9. Chris Carrier 1:14:57

10. Joe Campbell 1:19:37

11. Vinny Savastano 1:20:59

12. Kevin Delaney 1:21:21

13. Zachary Nelson 1:22:20

14. Rick Stewart 1:22:47

15. Dan Caruso 1:23:42

16. Mark Falco 1:24:27

17. Jeffrey Hirt 1:24:55

18. Brian Whelan 1:25:20

19. Gary Addison 1:25:57

20. Mark Stern 1:26:03

Women’s Half-Marathon

1. Natasha Filliol 1:22:59

2. Sarah Joyce 1:26:06

3. Nancy Jeggle 1:28:26

4. Maureen Callahan 1:29:31

5. Kate Canty 1:33:02

6. Carrie Sharpe 1:33:35

7. Mary Rimlinger 1:34:26

8. Patricia Pirnie 1:34:31

9. Karin George 1:35:23

10. Melinda Schwartz 1:35:33

11. Shelby Poston 1:36:16

12. Jeanne Chiarmonte 1:36:58

13. Alex Brown 1:37:41

14. Jess Nowak 1:37:41

15. Fran Migliozzi 1:38:08

16. Maureen Kemeny 1:38:28

17. Leigh Dye 1:38:43

18. Kathleen Kuryak 1:38:48

19. Rebecca Charpinsky 1:38:55

20. Jill Graney 1:40:19

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele Will Not Participate In Olympic 5,000-10,000 Double In Beijing

Jojo Doria - AHN

Delden, Netherlands (AHN) - Kenenisa Bekele has ruled out Friday an Olympic 5,000-10,000 meters double in the Beijing Games in August, citing tough competition and tight schedule.

Beckele, who came in behind Moroccon legend Hicham El Guerrouj by 0.2 seconds in the 5,000m in the 2004 Athens Games, will instead focus his attention in defending his 10,000m title in the coming Summer Olympics in Beijing.

"It's very tough to run a double at the Olympics," Bekele told "I ran many kilometers in a few days in Athens, and I lost a lot of power."

Bekele, who according to many finished second in the 5,000 due to heavy schedules, will still attempt to surpass his 5000m world mark of 12:37.35 in Saturday' Fanny Blankers-Koen Games in the eastern Dutch city. On June 8, Bekele will also attempt to match if not surpass his 10,000m mark of 26:17.53 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon.

"Both records are tough," Bekele told, explaining that maintaining a 60 to 61 second per lap pace over 5000m on his own is no easy chore, a problem he has had in recent years.

According to Bekele's manager Jos Hermens, the selection process for the Ethiopian national squad is difficult considering the number of athletes competing for the three-man team. But Hermens said that Bekele barring any event that might hamper the runner's present condition is already assured of landing a spot in the team.

"I think if I'm focusing on the record, it's better for me," Bekele, who prefers to make a stab at a solo record rather than being forced, told

Year best 5000m time for Ethiopia's Burka

HENGELO, Netherlands (AFP) — Ethiopia's Gelete Burka set a year best time of 14min 45.84sec in the 5000m in a meet here on Saturday.

The 22-year-old 1500m African champion took almost 15sec off the 15:00.6 mark set by Romania's Elena Antoci on May 11 in Craiova.

Burka beat compatriots Meselech Melkamu (14:46.25) and Belaynesh Fikadu (14:46.84).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Parade of champions heading to Hengelo – IAAF World Athletics Tour

Hengelo, The Netherlands - The organisers of Saturday's Fanny Blankers-Koen Games have assembled some of the best ever fields in the history of this annual Grand Prix meeting, part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2008.

The track in the stadium in Hengelo, in the eastern part of the Netherlands, has proven its high quality with several World records set by Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie, nicknamed “Mr. Hengelo”, in the 5000 and 10,000 metres.

Athletes coordinator Ellen van Langen, the Olympic 800 metres champion from Barcelona 1992, received an overwhelming number of applications from world class athletes for the most important annual track meet in The Netherlands. Many athletes will be seeking qualification standards for the Beijing Olympic Games or will test their late Spring form.

Spotlight on Gebrselassie, Bekele

The longer track races were always the highlights in Hengelo. Gebrselassie, the World record holder in the Marathon, has set four World records on the Hengelo track. He will run the 10,000 metres to try to qualify for Beijing’s longest track race. The legendary Ethiopian will meet strong opposition from Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Moses Mosop and his compatriots Sileshi Sihine, Abebe Dinkesa and Gebre Gebremariam.

Kenenisa Bekele is the hot favourite in the 5000 metres. The heir apparent to Gebrselassie will meet Kenyans Edwin Soi and Thomas Longosiwa. Another spectacular event is the 3000m Steeplechase with 2007 World champion Brimin Kiproto and Osaka bronze medallist Richard Matelong.

Kirwa vs. Bungei in the 800m

For the Dutch spectators it was a disappointment that Bram Som, the European 800m had to withdraw due to a slight injury. The Dutchman, who does not want to endanger his chances for the Olympic Games, would have World champion Alfred Kirwa Yego and his Kenyan compatriot Wilfred Bungei, the former World Indoor champion.

Smith going for throws double

Of strong interest too will the Men’s Discus Throw and Shot Put. The home crowd will certainly be cheering for Dutch hero Rutger Smith. The giant from Groningen, the first ever athlete to win medals in the World Championships in both the discus and the shot, will have some very serious opposition. Smith who proved to be in a very good shape in recent weeks with 66.85m (discus) and 20.77m (shot) performances, and will double in Hengelo. In the Discus Throw he will face double Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna, who threw 71.25 in Turnov on 20 May; Gerd Kanter, who also passed the 70m barrier this year with his 71.88m effort in Salinas on 8 May; and Aleksander Tammert.

In the Shot Put, the two-time World indoor champion Christian Cantwell (USA) is the opponent most to fear with the shot for Smith.

Dutch hurdlers Gregory Sedoc and Marcel van de Westen, who dashed to gold and silver at the 2007 European Indoor Championships, were to meet Allen Johnson. But the American veteran has injured an ankle and was forced to withdraw. He will by replaced by countryman Ryan Wilson (13.02 in 2007).

Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles will meet Rodney Martin and Marlon Devonish over 200 metres.

Runway adjustment for Air Saladino

A very promising event will be the men’s Long Jump with World champion Irving Saladino from Panama, the holder of the FBK stadium record (8.53m). The organisers have brought the take off board jump two metres back from it’s usual spot as last year Saladino landed very close to the end of the pit and didn’t dare jump full force. World indoor champion Godfrey Mokoena of South Africa should provide the fiercest competition.

In the Pole Vault, Germans Danny Ecker and Tim Lobinger top the field along with 2005 World champion Rens Blom from The Netherlands. The Dutchman was troubled by Achilles tendon problems in recent years, on which he was operated on two times. Last week Blom was back in competition and jumped 5.50m. The Dutch qualification standard for Beijing is 5.70m.

Gevaert vs. Williams in the 100m

An interesting confrontation in the women's 100m will be the clash between doule European sprint champion Kim Gevaert (Bel), World indoor 60m champion Angela Williams (USA), Jeanette Kwakye (GBr) and Susanthika Jayasinghe (Sri Lanka).

Maryam Jamal of Bahrain, the World 1500m champion, is the favourite on the 800 metres.

Solid women’s 5000m field as well

A very interesting field is assembled in the women’s 5000m with the Ethiopian trio of Gelete Burka, Meselech Melkamu, and Mestewat Tufa, along with Prisca Jepleting Cherono (Ken) and Kara Goucher (USA).

Susanna Kallur and Lolo Jones will clash in the 100 metres hurdles.

European champion Tia Hellebaut of Belgium is the favouite in the High Jump. Interesting is also the Shot Put with Nadine Kleinert and Petra Lammert of Germany.

Wim van Hemert for the IAAF

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tadese the men’s 10km victor, while Abeylegesse and Momanyi share women’s spoils in Bangalore

Bangalore, India - A cool morning (25C !!!)greeted the start of the men’s race of the inaugural Sunfeast World 10km on Sunday (18 May), but by the time the women’s race got underway temperatures were seriously on the rise above 30C.

Two-time World Road Running champion Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea took the men’s victory, while there was a dead-heat in the women’s race.


South Africa’s Enos Matalane and Kenyan Ezekiel Cherop were the initial leaders before World 5000m bronze medallist Moses Kipsiro of Uganda and Tanzanian Dickson Marwa, third at this year’s Ras Al Khaimah half marathon, joined them at the 2 km mark.

Pre-race favourites Tadese and Moses Masai of Kenya shortly moved in front and stayed there along with Kipsiro. Tadese went past the half-way mark in 13:58 with Kipsiro and Matthew Koech (Kenya) closely on his heels.

Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede, the 2:06:40 winner of this year's Paris Marathon, came from behind to join the leaders at the 7th Km as they were running in front of Vidhan Saudha, the provincial Karnataka legislative assembly. The runners then turned into the extensive Cubbon Park in their last stretch towards the finish where Tadese and Kipsiro emerged as clear leaders.

Kipsiro was ahead when he entered the Sree Kanteerava Stadium but once on the synthetic track surface Tadese ran faster and overtook the Ugandan to win in 27:51 and take a USD 20,000 victor’s purse.

“My legs were unable to cope-up with the heat of the race and I wonder what happened at the last few metres,” Kipsiro confirmed after the race. Kipsiro clocked 27:54 for the second place.


Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse, the World silver medallist for 10,000m, was the pre-race favourite, and as expected, she led the race from the start. Ethiopian Berhane Adere, former World champion both on the track at 10,000m and on the roads over Half Marathon, stayed at the fore with a big bunch of runners including her team-mate Tiki Gelana. This group passed the 5K mark in 16:07.

By the 22nd minute of the race, Abeylegesse, Gelana together with Kenyan duo Grace Momanyi and Doris Chenwego were in the lead. With 2Km to go, Gelana started trailing off the pace leaving the three remaining runners in contention for the top-spot.

A strong Abeylegesse entered the stadium first keeping in mind that Kenya’s African champion Grace Momanyi was less than a metre behind. They ran neck-to-neck in the last few metres of the race and crossed the finish-line together in 32:02.

At first Abeylegesse was announced as winner. However, on verification of the tape, both Abeylegesse and Momanyi were declared joint winners and so get USD 16,000 each for their effort.

Apart from the main race, there had been other events including a 4Km Wheel Chair event, an open 10Km race for juniors, another 4Km run for the senior citizens and a 5.7 Km Majja Run. As many as 5000 people took to the streets in the open race.

The ITC-sponsored event had a budget of over 1.5 million US dollars of which USD 150,000 was distributed as prize money. This race was the third in the row of athletic events promoted by the Mumbai-based Procam International, who organizes the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon and Vodafone Delhi Half Marathon.

Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF


MEN's 10km
1. Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) 27:51
2. Moses Kipsiro (Uganda) 27:54
3. Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) 28:10
4. Moses Masai (Kenya) 28:22
5. Feyisa Lelisa (Ethiopia) 28:35
6. Demesew Tsega (Ethiopia) 28:44
7. John Korir (Kenya) 28:48
8. Mubarak Shami (Qatar) 28:51
9. Dickson Marwa (Tanzania) 28:52
10. Matthew Koech (Kenya) 29:10

WOMEN's 10km
1. Elvan Abeylegesse (Turkey) 32:02
1. Grace Momanyi (Kenya) 32:02
3. Doris Chepngeno (Kenya) 32:31
4. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) 32:46
5. Salina Kosgei (Kenya) 33:18
6. Joan Ayerbei (Kenya) 33:29
7. Berhane Adere (Ethiopia) 33:38
8. Amane Gemeda (Ethiopia) 33:48
9. Roman Gessesse (Ethiopia) 33:53
10. Hilalia Johannes (Namibia) 34:04

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Don’t force athletes to go to camp

Preparations for the Beijing Olympics begin in earnest this week, when elite athletes move into residential training camp in Eldoret and Nairobi, ahead of next month’s national trials.

This is the first time that Athletics Kenya are taking the athletes to camp way ahead of the national trials, a system that has worked very well for arch-rivals Ethiopia who organise long camping sessions for their runners.

But the big difference between Ethiopia and Kenya is that the latter’s athletics association has actually constructed training camps all over the country and has a well-synchronised training programme.

That Athletics Kenya has warned that any athlete who does not report to the camps in Eldoret and Nairobi risks being suspended is preposterous.

While we appreciate that early preparations are imperative if we are to rake in the medals in Beijing, it could have made more sense for the association’s technical officials to consult widely with each of the top athletes’ personal trainers and come up with water-tight programmes for both those who will be in camp and the ones that choose to train at their bases abroad.

That Athletics Kenya do not have training camps of their own gives them little ground to wield the big stick against the athletes and their managers, some of whom own their own camps.

Lack of harmony between the association, the athletes and their managers has previously led to serious discontent that has driven quite a talented crop of stars away to the Middle East and Europe.

Most of the top Kenyan athletes have invested large sums in personalised training while the association does little in contributing to these stars’ preparations.

It is, therefore, only fair to give such athletes a hearing rather than force them to go into camp and disrupt their previously planned training regime.

Dialogue and consultation are the best way forward for Athletics Kenya, the athletes and their agents if there is any hope of sending a unified and motivated team to Beijing in August.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ethiopia's Bekele to attempt 10,000 metres record in Oregon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ethiopian Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele will attempt to break his 10,000 metres world record at next month's Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, organisers said on Monday.

The race will take place at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field on June 8. The stadium is also the site of the June 27-July 6 U.S. Olympic trials.

Bekele set his current record of 26 minutes 17.53 seconds on August 26, 2005 in Brussels.

"The record is not easy," Bekele's manager Jos Hermens said in a statement. "But this is an absolutely serious attempt. His training is going well, and he is 100 per cent 'go' for the record."

It will be the 25-year-old Bekele's first outdoor appearance in the United States.

Bekele, who also holds the world 5,000 metres record, will run in the morning ahead of other events at the 34th annual grand prix meeting to take advantage of what should be more favourable wind conditions.

"We compiled 20 years of data about wind conditions, humidity, temperature - you name it," meet director Tom Jordan said. "The conditions are slightly better during the morning than the evening."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ethiopia boycotts Qatar Grand Prix

DOHA • Ethiopian athletes will not be participating in the Qatar Athletic Super Grand Prix today, the Qatar Association of Athletic Federation (QAAF) announced. “Ethiopian athletes will not be taking part in Qatar Athletic Super Grand Prix,” Dahlan Al Hamad, Qatar Association of Athletic Federation’s President, said yesterday.

“We were expecting the participation of nine athletes from Ethiopia. Unfortunately politics has got in the way of sports and Ethiopian government has stopped them from coming here,” Dahlan added. “We had sent them air tickets and visa. But they have been stopped by their government. I would like to wish them good luck for their future events and also Beijing Olympics,” Dahlan, who is also a Vice President of IAAF, said.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

ESFNA to go to DC to celebrate its 25th silver Jubiliee,

Message From The President

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate DC area Ethiopians in their winning bid to host our 25th silver anniversary in Washington DC, a city dubbed as “Home away from Home”, by a lot of Ethiopians. Recognizing the magnanimity of our 25th anniversary, ESFNA’s general board members tasked the EC with the duty of making sure our 25th anniversary happened in Washington DC. After ironing out some last minute details, we are proud to announce Washington DC as the host city for our silver jubilee. ESFNA is a non-profit organization that takes its unique role as the provider of a neutral stage where Ethiopians of all walks of life can come together and celebrate our diversity and common heritage. This does not happen by chance. ESFNA makes deliberate decisions to safeguard our neutrality, and makes significant investments to make sure this forum continues to serve the needs of all Ethiopians. When we make such decisions, we count on all Ethiopians from around the globe to understand our role and lend us their support. This year, ESFNA is going to throw a big bash to celebrate our 25th anniversary that has coincided with our millennium celebrations. Our games will be held and the prestigious RFK stadium, former home for the Washington Redskins and current home for DC United. We plan to amaze the nation’s capitol by show casing the best Ethiopians have to offer.
Many dignitaries have been invited for this bash. Come meet them personally and show your Ethiopian pride. The hotel we have reserved is simply astounding. It is a brand new hotel along the National Harbor. ESFNA has negotiated unbelievable rates for such an amazing hotel. After all, it is our 25th anniversary, and nothing but the best will do. Mark your calendars and make the necessary arrangements since this will be a time to remember. We are also compiling various data to commemorate our 25th anniversary. For example, we would like to publish those couples that are married now and met during one of our events. If you would like us to publish your names, please send us your name and where you met to fayami@aol.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
I would also like to announce that ESFNA conducted another one of its peaceful transitions of 5 offices. In true democratic fashion, those EC members whose terms were up this year, Haile Tefera, Kassa Kuma, Tameirat Mamo, Tedla Gessesse and Zecharias Getachew were succeeded by Bisrat Desta, Elias Dimberu, Zewdu Takele, Taye Wogderes and Fassil Abebe. We are proud at the collaboration that is taking place between the incoming and outgoing EC members. The outgoing EC has pledged its support to the incoming EC, and the incoming EC has made it clear to their out going counterparts that they would utilize their experience and plans for 2008 as they think of new ways to take this organization to the next level under their watch.
I would like to thank the outgoing group for their years of service to ESFNA.
Under Haile’s watch, ESFNA’s vendor income has grown in leaps and bounds. All vending business has been conducted in a transparent and professional manner. He has introduced various ideas to increase ESFNA attendance, including partnerships with non-profits and for profit vendors.
Under Kassa’s watch, ESFNA members can rest assured that we are good with the IRS. He has filed our taxes in a timely and professional manner. He has recommended and insisted on better spending trend for ESFNA as a whole. He has audited ESFNA business with no bias and with integrity.
Tame has taken the tournament coordinators job to the next level. Under his watch, I have yet to hear a player complain. He treated everyone equally. Knowing and understanding his integrity, no one even tried to bend the tournament laws and regulations. The discipline committee met very little since he did job great to start with.
Under Tedla’s watch, ESFNA’s finances were in safe hands. As a professional in the field, Tedla made sure he executed his fiduciary duties with the highest degree of professionalism. He kept reminding all of us that we were accountable to the DOJ, and we needed to account for every transaction with proper receipts and contracts. Tedla made the jobs of the finance committee and auditor easy by having available every supporting document for every transaction. He was also in favor of proper board training so that we take advantage of all the benefits afforded to non-profits, as well as the responsibility and accountability of board members that come along with the benefits.
Under Zecharias’s watch, the PR department made tremendous efforts to overhaul our relationship with media outlets. Pretty much all Ethiopian media outlets were a phone call away. He made sure there were timely radio programs, and updates on our website as they were available. He made great strides in making sure ESFNA has the best entertainment during our event. His tireless efforts and energy were exemplary.
I would also like to welcome the new EC members. They are capable individuals and have pledged to work extra hard to make ESFNA 2008 a success given the short amount of time left before our tournament.
Thank you for visiting our site. We look forward to seeing you in Washington DC. If you have any questions or concerns, please drop us a line at e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Dawit Agonafer ESFNA, President

Monday, May 5, 2008

S. Africa, Nigeria and Ethiopia Dominate African Athletic Meet

South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya have dominated the African Athletics Championships, capturing a combined 30 of the 44 gold medals. South Africa finished on top with 12 golds and a total of 22 medals. Nigeria was second with 19 medals, seven of them gold. Host Ethiopia took third with 15 medals including a gold-silver-bronze sweep in both the men's and women's 10,000 meter races. VOA's Peter Heinlein was at Addis Ababa stadium for the five-day meet, and captured the excitement at the women's 10 K finish line.

SPORTCASTER: "The winner is Ethiopia. One, two, three, Ethiopia. The crowd is ecstatic. The Dibaba sisters take the gold and silver. The winning time, Tirunesh Dibaba, 32 minutes, 49 point 08 seconds."

Tirunesh's older sister Ejegayehu Dibaba finished one second behind Tirunesh. The Ethiopian medal sweep was a repeat of the Ethiopian men's accomplishment in the 10K race a couple days earlier. That accounted for six of Ethiopia's 15 medals. Ethiopia's multiple world record holder Kenenisa Bekele added another gold with a win in one of his specialties, the 5,000 meter race.

Kenya's men swept the boards in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, and finished fourth overall in the medal standings. The steeplechase victory prompted an ecstatic Kenyan sports minister Helen Sambili to say she felt like running herself. She called it a new day for a country emerging from months of political strife.

"This is the new Kenya now," said Helen Sambili. "We're having a makeover now. We have solved the problems. The coalition government in place. We are back on track again.

The championships were marred somewhat by the absence of some of Africa's greatest track stars. The 2,400 - meter altitude in Addis Ababa may have been a factor in keeping some distance-runner away. The altitude's debilitating effect was clearly evident at the end of one heat of the women's 800-meter race, won by Nigeria's Damola Osayomi.

SPORTCASTER: "Nigeria wins the women's 800 meter race. Oh my, they're down. All three of the top finishers are on the track, lying in agony. Oh my, they're carrying the winner off. They lift her up by her arms and her legs. All three of the runners have to be carried off. They're in agony. The second place runner is being lifted onto a stretcher. The winner is trying to get up, struggling to stand up, but can't do it. She barely made it across the line and just collapsed."

Fortunately, all the competitors later were reported to have recovered fully, and Nigerian Damola Osayomi's time was good enough to earn her a silver medal.

The five-day competition saw the emergence of several rising African athletic stars. Among them South Africa's Hennie Kotze, who took gold in the men's 100 meter hurdles even though he had never run it before. He told VOA his victory had given him the confidence to try to go on and qualify for the Olympics.

"I decided this that if I do good, I'm going to go on, otherwise not," said Hennie Kotze. "So I'm gonna go on. Just focus on a bit on this. Because I did decathlon in the beginning of the year, so I'm just gonna focus on it. I trained for about a month. I'm very happy now."

Despite his team's 12 gold medals, South Africa's head coach Ekkart Arbeit said he was not satisfied with his athletes' performance. He said not a single South African gold medal performance in Addis would be good enough for a medal at the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

"This is for the next part of preparation, not good enough. Not good enough," said Ekkart Arbeit.

QUESTION: "Why not?"

"Because with these results, when we take these results. I speak only for the south African team, I don't know all the results, there is not one medal in Beijing," said Arbeit. "That's for sure."

While not pleased with his own team's performance, Arbeit called it a great day for African athletics. He has been coaching Olympic teams since the 1968 games in Mexico City. He said since then, Africa has come from almost no athletic programs to the point where at this meet, 42 countries participated, and 24 won medals.

"When we see the development from that time to now, maybe there were three four countries from Africa in the Olympic Games," he said. "Now you see how many countries have medals here. And that is great. That is for the development of athletics in Africa, not only South Africa, very, very important."

These 16th annual African championships mark the first time Ethiopia has hosted such an event. Admission was free in this country where the average income is less than $200 dollars a year, and families crammed the 25,000 - seat stadium for a glimpse of some of their national heroes. Tens of thousands had to be turned away after the stadium was full, and throngs packed a nearby city square where the games were shown on a big screen TV.

SA grabs more golds, tops medal tally in Ethiopia

Isabel Le Roux and Thuso Mpuang gave South Africa gold medals with victories in the 200m finals on the final day of the 16th African Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday.

South Africa ended top of the table with a medal tally of 22 with 12 gold, two silver and eight bronze medals. Nigeria was second with seven golds and a total of 19.

Both athletes set personal best times and will also represent their country at the Beijing Olympic Games in August. Twenty-one year old Le Roux clocked a fast 22 point 69 seconds, making her the fifth fastest woman of all time in South Africa.

The 22-year Mpuang qualified but lowered his personal best to 20 point 53 seconds. Also grabbing gold was the South African four by 400m relay team.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Gebrselassie receives honorary doctorate degree from Leeds Metropolitan University

Ethiopian distance running legend Haile Gebrselassie has just received a honorary doctorate degree from Leeds Metropolitan University for his outstanding contribution to the sport.
At an awards ceremony held at the Addis Ababa stadium in front of a packed capacity crowd of 35,000, Gebrselassie received the honorary doctorate degree from Professor Simon Lee, Vice Chancellor of the University.

Gebrselassie and student ambassadors of the University then did a lap of honour around the track to rapturous cheers of the crowd who chanted ‘Haile! Haile!’ to honour arguably the best long distance runner in the history of athletics.

“I would like to thank Leeds for this award,” said a delighted Gebrselassie. “I hope this award by thousands and inspire thousands of people around the world.”

"Haile is just not only an athlete, but an ambassador for Africa," said Malcolm Brown, Director of Sport at the University.

Gebrselassie is a two-time Olympic 10000m and four-time world 10000m champion and has smashed 24 records in a long and illustrious career.

Carnegie is the sports faculty of the Leeds Metropolitan University. They are a prestigous sponsor of the 16th CAA African Athletics Championships.

Elshadai Negash for

Medal rush for Ethiopia and Kenya on final day

Olympic and world 10000m champion Kenenisa Bekele comfortably defended his African 5000m title with an outstanding sprint finish to lead a rush for medals for hosts Ethiopia on the final day of the 16th CAA African Athletics Championships.

The 25-year old, who had skipped the 10000m a few days earlier, recovered in time from the excursions of winning a sixth successive world cross country title a month ago in Edinburgh with a hard-fought victory over Kenyan Isaac Songok.

“It was very, very tough today because of the altitude,” said Bekele. “Since the World Cross Country Championship I have had to take 10 days of training off and I have only been back in training for 20 days. This is why I was not sure I would run today and track is very different to cross country, but I had to do it in front of my own people, because they really wanted to see me. When me and Haile hugged on his lap of honour he wished me luck”
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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Montsho takes 49.83 400m victory in Addis Ababa – African Championships day 3

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Amantle Montsho, 24, from Botswana, recorded the outstanding performance on the third day of the 16th African Athletics Championships here tonight, clocking the first sub 50sec run in the history of the championships. Supplanting Sanya Richards as the fastest woman in the world this year, Montsho consolidated her status as the first Botswana woman to reach world elite level.

Montsho – ‘Now I believe anything is possible’

Montsho took full advantage of the altitude setting of the Addis Ababa Stadium, and the wild support of a 25,000 capacity crowd, to record 49.83. Winning by more than a clear second from runner-up Agugan Folashade (50.89) from Nigeria, she obliterated the championship record of 50.07 set 10 years ago by Nigeria’s Falilat Ogunkoya. Furthermore, it was only the third gold medal for Botswana in the 29-year history of the championships.

Runner-up to 2001 world champion Amy Mbacke Thiam, of Senegal, in the last African Championships, in 2006, Montsho scored her first significant international success when taking the All Africa Games title, in Algiers, last year. Recording 51.13, she went on to break the national record for the fourth time in 2007 (50.90) as she narrowly failed to reach the final of the World Championships in Osaka.

Botswana, famous for its diamond industry, has found a sporting jewel here. Four years ago merely taking part in the Athens Olympics was a dream come true for the young athlete who did not have the standard but who was entered with the wild card for countries without qualified athletes. Montsho thus became the first woman from Botswana to compete in the Olympics. Now she has the potential to reach the final in Beijing. “I was not surprised to break the record,” she said. “But I didn’t plan it, it just came. Now I believe anything is possible.”

Just 15 minutes later Botswana almost won a second gold medal at 400m but Isaac Makwala had to settle for silver in the closest of finishes. Ali Babiker Nagmeldin delivered Sudan’s first gold of this year’s championships but only after recording the same time (45.64) as Makwala.

Rudisha cruises to first Kenyan gold...

Ten other countries had won gold medals prior to Kenya getting off the mark and it was left to David Rudisha to open the account with his victory over 800m. Rudisha, the world junior champion, recorded 1:44.20 to beat by almost a second the championship record which had survived for 24 years. It had been set at 1:45.17 by Rudisha’s compatriot, Sammy Kosgei.

Rudisha’s run also strengthened his hold on the world’s fastest time of the year, having recorded 1:44.38 in Nairobi last month, although he was just outside the personal best of 1:44.15 he ran to win the Golden League 800m in Brussels last season. The absence of Abubaker Kaki, the Sudanese who won the Pan Arab Games title last year in 1:43.90 and who has since been crowned World Indoor champion, ensured a relatively easy path to victory for Rudisha.

... followed by a Kenyan steeplechase sweep

After suffering humiliation over the first two days, as Ethiopia took five medals to their one in the men’s 10,000m and women’s 5000m, Kenya hit back with a vengeance. No sooner had Rudisha won, supported by compatriot Asbel Kiprop’s 800m bronze, than they celebrated a sweep of the medals in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase. Richard Mateelong, bronze medallist at the World Championships in Osaka, took the gold in the absence of the countrymen who beat him that day, Brimin Kipruto and Ezekiel Kemboi. Mateelong passed Michael Kipyego on the final barrier to win in 8:31.68. Willy Komen added the bronze.

Burka leads Ethiopian 1-2 in women’s 1500m...

However, Ethiopia has come to expect at these championships and, with their last throw of the dice on day three, Gelete Burka rolled a six, winning the women’s 1500m in a championship record 4:08.25. Compatriot Meskerem Assefa followed up with silver.

... but South Africa leads the gold rush

While the track events have dominated interest among spectators, and the Ethiopia-Kenya rivalry in particular, South Africa have been going about their business with quiet efficiency. Five more golds took their table-topping tally to six. L.J. van Zyl retained his 400m Hurdles title (48.91), Elizna Naude won the women’s Discus (55.34m), Janice Josephs took the women’s Long Jump (6.64m), Anika Smit the women’s High Jump (1.88) and, courtesy of a failed last changeover by Nigeria, the South African men’s squad won the 4x100m.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rwanda/Ethiopia: Five Fail Beijing Target

Rwanda chances of having more athletes attain the minimum Olympic Games standard qualification time were dealt a major blow on Thursday as four athletes faced rough exit from the ongoing African championship in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

First in action was the leading national sprinter, Islam Mulinda who finished sixth in heat two clocking 11.36 to set a national record but failed to qualify to the semi-final stage of the 100m event.

While the duo of Emmanuel Ntakiyimana and Etienne Gashagaza failed to overcome the battle in the heat stages of the 400m. Benin's Mathias Gnaligo won the heat stage three in a time of 47.10, leaving Ntakiyimana to finish sixth clocking 52.94.

In the other heat Gashagaza did not start hence denting Rwanda's chances of securing any more qualifiers. In 800m, the country's youngster Joseph Nzirorera qualified to the semi-final stage after finishing fourth behind Kenya's David Rudishu in heat two. Nzirorera clocked 1.58.04.

Nzirorera was due to face fifteen other athletes in yesterday's semi-final stage that had not been staged by press time.

The only event where many Rwandans had better hopes of getting at least someone to qualify was the 10.000m unfortunately the duo of Etienne Bizimana and Cyriaque Ndayikengurikiye failed to beat the minimum B qualification standard time of 28:10.00 for this year's Beijing games.

Bizimana clocked 31:33.26 to finish eighth while Ndayikengurikiye clocked 31:46.14 finishing ninth. Ethiopian trio of Gebregziabher Gebremariam, Ibrahim Jeylan and Eshetu Wondimu to a clean sweep of the medals in the event as pre-event favorite Kenenisa Bekele withdrew at the last minute.

However, 5000m female champion Angelline Nyiransabimana and 4*400m national team composed of Etienne Gashagaza, Musa Bizimana, Innocent Hakuzimana and Emmanuel Ntakiyimana were due to take to action last night.

Kansas player visits Ethiopia

Nicole Cauzillo’s first glimpse of life in Ethiopia came from the back seat of a van as it swerved through the streets of the capital city, Addis Ababa.

Long after dark, drivers honked and jockeyed for position in Addis Ababa’s chaotic traffic. Children played in the streets. Cauzillo, a Northville, Mich., senior, sat back in her seat, taking it all in.

Hours earlier, Cauzillo and the rest of the Charlotte Eagles, a women’s semi-pro soccer team made up of former college standouts, had been greeted by local media and members of their sister team — the Addis Ababa Eagles — almost immediately after stepping off the plane.
Nicole Cauzillo posing with the jersey of Ethiopian soccer player Birtukan, whom she traded jerseys with in Ethiopia

Photo by Jon Goering

Nicole Cauzillo posing with the jersey of Ethiopian soccer player Birtukan, whom she traded jerseys with in Ethiopia

It was the beginning of a whirlwind 15 days, from April 1-16, spent using soccer to introduce the word of God, perform mission work and support Ethiopia’s fledgling women’s professional league and its players. In the process, the Eagles overcame the Ethiopian women’s national team 3-2 behind two Cauzillo goals, all while battling the withering heat and struggling to adapt to an altitude of more than 7,000 feet.

“We got tired when we first got there just bringing our bags up the stairs,” Cauzillo said of the draining conditions.

Cauzillo said she quickly learned soccer in Ethiopia was completely different than the game she played in the United States. Mountains and a picturesque lake dominated by a herd of hippos flanked the team’s training camp outside Addis Ababa at Lake Lagano. The fields were more dirt than grass, and the grounds crew consisted of dedicated herds of cattle that self-fertilized and occasionally interrupted play.

But the players and love for the game? No different. Cauzillo said it was inspiring to see the hope and excitement the game of soccer brought the women and children she met during her two weeks in Ethiopia.

“There is so much poverty, hard work and all these things that take their joy away,” she said. “Soccer is one thing that really gives them joy.”

After completing her career at Kansas by leading the team with 5 goals last fall, Cauzillo said she was looking for an opportunity to continue playing when then Kansas volunteer assistant coach Jenny Anderson-Hammond, a former Eagles player, approached her with an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Eagles’ coach Sam Casey was looking for a player to fill out his roster for the team’s trip to Ethiopia. Cauzillo was offered the spot. She said the opportunity to combine her love of soccer and religious beliefs through mission work in Africa was impossible to pass up. Cauzillo said she had always wanted to perform mission work in Africa, but she never would have expected the effect the people there would have on her.

“I went to Ethiopia thinking ‘I have so much to give these people. I’m really excited to change their lives and fill up their lives,’” she said. “But I left being completely changed by them.”

Casey said although Cauzillo joined the group late, the team welcomed her with open arms. He said her enthusiasm, compassion for helping others and megawatt smile was contagious.

“She loves people,” Casey said. “I felt like every person she met, every kid she met, she was just so excited to meet them and speak with them. She always had a smile on her face.”

Cauzillo said she would remember the countless friendships she made among the women she played with and against for the rest of her life. None more so than the friendship that developed between herself and 19-year-old Ethiopian women’s national team prodigy and Addis Ababa Eagle, Birtukan.

“She is the Michael Jordan of women’s soccer there,” Cauzillo said.

After spending nearly two weeks training and playing together in Addis and at Lake Lagano, the two went head to head in the Eagles’ final game of the trip in front of a raucous crowd at the Ethiopian national stadium in Addis.

Following Cauzillo and the Eagles’ dramatic victory against Birtukan and the Ethiopian national team, the two swapped jerseys, a traditional sign of respect between players. Cauzillo said after the game Birtukan brought her to her home and introduced her to her family, an experience she will treasure the rest of her life.

In fact, Cauzillo promised to travel back to Ethiopia in December for a week to visit. She is even considering an offer to return in the summer of 2009 to play for the Addis Ababa Eagles in Ethiopia’s women’s league.

While Cauzillo plans on returning to Ethiopia, Birtukan may get the opportunity to make the trip to the U.S. Casey said the Eagles had already begun the process of getting Birtukan a visa to play in Charlotte this summer.

As for Cauzillo, she said she was counting the days until she can return to Ethiopia. After all, she made a promise.

“They remember promises,” Cauzillo said. “If they say they’re going to do something, they do it. I have to go back in December. I’ve left a part of my heart there.”

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Melkamu outsprints Defar for 5000m title – African Championships day 2

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Meseret Defar, the IAAF female athlete of 2007 who had already begun to look unbeatable again this year, suffered a shock defeat on the second day of the 16th African Athletics Championships here tonight. Defar, who in 2008 has set a World indoor best time for two miles and won a third successive World Indoor 3000m title, had to settle for silver in a 5000m won by compatriot Meselech Melkamu.

Melkamu, only ninth, and Ethiopia’s last scorer, in the World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh four weeks ago, took advantage of a slow, tactical race to outgun Defar on the last lap and deny her a successful defence of the title she had won in Bambous, Mauritius, in 2006. It was a first senior international championship victory for the 2004 World junior cross country and 5000m champion.

Melkamu finally emerges from Defar’s shadow

Told many years ago by her father always to consider herself as having a chance, regardless of the opposition, Melkamu put the guidance into practice before a capacity 25,000 home crowd in Addis Ababa Stadium. She became the fourth successive Ethiopian winner of the title, each one with a different identity, following Berhane Adere (2002), Etalemahu Kidane (2004) and Defar (2006).

Melkamu, now 23, finished just outside the medals in Ethiopia’s historic sweep of the top four places in the 5000m at the 2005 World Championships, in Helsinki, following Tirunesh Dibaba, Defar, and Ejegayehu Dibaba. She was sixth in the 2006 African Championships and repeated that position at the 2007 World Championships, in Osaka, won by Defar.

Indoors these past two seasons, Melkamu has had an unobscured rear view of Defar, Running indoors in Stuttgart during Defar’s 2007 attempt on the 3000m world record, she pushed her all the way, finishing two hundredths of a second behind Defar’s new World record of 8:23.72. At the 2008 World Indoor Championships, in Valencia, she took the silver behind Defar, albeit nearly three seconds adrift.

Here tonight, it took only four laps for the lead pack to be trimmed to six athletes, comprising three Ethiopians and three Kenyans. Melkamu, Defar and Belaynesh Fekadu between them took the pace while the Kenyans, Grace Momanyi, Veronica Nyaruai and Esther Chemutai, seemed content to sit in. Chemutai briefly put in an appearance at the front with 1500m to go but the Ethiopians quickly restored order and, as the bell sounded (14:48.30), six contenders remained.

A 61.51sec last lap saw Melkamu edge out Defar, who only narrowly denied Momanyi the silver medal. The victor recorded 15:49.81, Defar and Momanyi sharing 15:50.19. With Fekadu fourth, Momanyi at least denied Ethiopia a second medal sweep after Gebregziabher Gebremariam, Ibrahim Jeilan and Eshetu Wondemu had dominated the men’s 10,000m on Wednesday.

As Melkamu went on her victory lap, Defar sat doubled-up on the track and the stretcher-bearers rushed to her side. Even after getting to her feet, she aborted two attempts to start jogging, apparently suffering stomach cramps, and resorted to resting her hands on her knees. Finally, with Melkamu’s lap of honour finished, Defar took a flag and managed a lap, much to the delight of the crowd.

"I was ill the whole day and I just competed because I made a promise to my people," said Defar.

Fusuba takes third 100m crown

Nigeria’s hopes of three sprint gold medals in one night evaporated when, in the first of the three finals in which they were hoping for victory, defending champion Toyin Augustus had to settle for silver in the women’s 100m Hurdles, beaten by Guinea’s Fatmata Fofanah. But at least Olusoji Fasuba and Damola Osayomi delivered a 100m double for Nigeria.

Fasuba clocked 10.10, with compatriot Emedolu Uchenne taking silver (10.21) and South Africa’s Hannes Dreyer bronze (10.24). In so doing Fasuba became the first man to win the title three times. Three other men had won it twice - Ernie Obeng for Ghana (1979/82), Chidi Imo for Nigeria (1984/85) and his countryman, Seun Ogunkoya (1996/98). How did Fasuba feel about his moment of history? “I’m aiming for five, three is too small for me,” he said.

The African 100m record holder, Fasuba achieved his victory here only eight weeks after taking the World Indoor 60m title in Valencia. “I came to this competition not prepared but just to see what I could do,” he said. “I know this is high altitude but I believe I can get better than this by the Olympics. It was very difficult to get ready for this so soon after the World Indoor Championships. Last week I was almost crying because my times were so terrible in training.”

In the women’s 100m, Anim arrived as the defending champion but knowing that she had been beaten by Osayomi to the All Africa Games title, in Algiers, last year. Tonight Osayomi recorded 11.22, Anim 11.43.

Fofanah captures first-ever title for Guinea

Fofanah’s narrow victory (13.10) and over Augustus (13.12) brought Guinea their first gold medal in the 29-year history of these championships. But it came from a woman who does not speak French and is none too fond of African food. “I was born in Sierra Leone but my parents were living in Guinea so I decided to represent Guinea,” Fofanah said.

“I train in Atlanta. My father decided to move us to the United States when I was about five years old, so that is how I ended up there. This is my biggest success by far. Previously it was the national championships in the United States. I have never done this well at an international competition and it feels so good. Guinea has been looking forward to this for so long. But the food has been a big problem for me here. I have been sick for the past few days.”

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David Powell for the IAAF

FLASH: Sprint double for Nigeria, Guinea win first gold

Nigerian duo Olusoji Fasuba and Damola Osayemi won the men’s and women’s 100m to move Nigeria to joint top of the medal in the second day of action at the 16th CAA African Athletics Championships (30 April- 4 May 2008).

The 22-year old, who is the All-African Games 100m/200m double champion, took victory in 11.22 ahead of Ghana’s defending champion Vida Anim and Cameroon’s Delphine Atangana.

In the men’s 100m, Nigeria’s Olusoji Fasuba comfortably defended his African title thanks to a 10.10 performance ahead of compatriot Uchenna Emedolu with South African Hannes Dreyer, the fastest qualifier in yesterday’s heats, beating Burkina Faso’s medal hopeful Idrissa Sanou to bronze.

Both performances were Addis Ababa stadium records and propelled Nigeria to the top of the medal standings with five medals (2 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze) with Egypt and hosts Ethiopia in second and third place.

"I know it is going to be a good year for me, because there is no way I am ready to run 10.10 now,” said an ecstatic Fasuba. “There are lots of good youngsters coming through now and African sprinting is on its way back up, I nearly got knocked out because the competition was tough but I had a good start and am pleased the result.”

Osayemi on her part said, “It was so great, I loved beating the defending champion. I worked hard to be here and I didn't let the false starts bother me, I stayed focused on the run. The preparations for Beijing are going well, I believe I can get a medal and I am good enough to win the Olympics because of God. I am very happy with my time as its so early in the season.”

The biggest surprise of the action this afternoon came in the women’s 110m hurdles where Fatuma Feofanah got the better of Nigerian race favourite Toyin Augustus to give Guinea its first gold of the championships. Her 13.10 was a national record and a performance significantly better than the 13.51 that won her bronze in Algiers last year.

“There was a lot of pressure on me because this is Guinea's first ever gold medal in the African Championships,” said Feofanah. “I have also been sick for the past two days. This is only my second competition of the season and therefore this is a great time.”