Friday, August 28, 2009

Against Ethiopian and Kenyan dominance in Athletics: IAAF and Europe to take radical step?

Criticisms have been labelled at the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Council for recommending that the World Cross Country Championships be held biennially because East African athletes from Ethiopia and Kenya are dominating the game.
The IAAF’s cross-country athletic championship which is held annually could, if the IAAF Congress accepts, be held every two years because “Ethiopia and Kenya are killing the sports.”

Europe has expressed concern over the large dominance of East African athletes and see no reason why it should field its athletes every year if they end up coming home empty-handed. “In 1973, 85 per cent of the competitors were from Europe. This year the figure had dropped to 29 per cent and there were no teams in Edinburgh from France or Germany,” Pierre Weiss, IAAF general secretary, quoted in April during the Edinburgh World Championships.

Paula Radcliffe and Sonia O’Sullivan from Britain and Republic of Ireland are the only two European athletes who have won the competition in recent years.

Since 1981, East African athletes have maintained dominance in the sports and after the Edinburgh championship that saw Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba won all four individual gold medals and two of the team titles, where only two Europeans are in the top 50, the IAAF Council had had enough.

Not only African but...

At the Berlin meeting last week, the IAAF council recommended that the events be held biennial so the alternate year can be used for African championships. "The World Cross Country championships have become not only an African affair but an East African affair, and these days you don’t even get athletes from West Africa competing," IAAF President Lamine Diack quoted by Kenyan Daily Nation at the Berlin Intercontinental Hotel. "Even the Kenyan delegates at our meeting agreed that East Africa’s dominance was killing the sport," said Diack.

"The problem is also that the teams are too large. It would have been better to, perhaps, have three runners in each team, but with as much as six runners per country per race, Ethiopia and Kenya will automatically take the first 12 places and the rest will compete from the 13th place. European broadcasters are no longer interested in covering these championships and some European federations are no longer interested in sending athletes to these competitions. Why should they invest to fight for 13th place?" said Merlo, an editor with leading Italian daily sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Will Nadal or Federer be treated the same?

Africans are outraged at the IAAF recommendation. Selemy Yohannes said: “I am ashamed of the one who initiate this idea. The mere fact that European countries are unable to compete in the world cross country championship made the IAAF council suggest that an annual event be held bi-annually? This is nothing but illicit continuation of the garbage idea of apartheid. I will be surprised if the world cup could be changed to every eight years because Brazil is a dominant force. Or can someone question Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal’s dominance in the Tennis championships. It will be a shame on the Kenyan representative if they accept the recommendation.”

Haile Abi writing from Ethiopia said: “They can’t invest anymore in an annual sports event because they are not dominant but they can invest in their media portraying our mothers and children as starving people and happy to send us false fertiliser.”

Richard from the United States also said: “This is actually laughable!! How can someone be penalized for being good at what he does? “

Meanwhile, Two Kenya officials, Isaiah Kiplagat and David Okeyo who sit at the IAAF council and cross country committee respectively are yet to make any comment.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ethiopia's Bekele nabs distance race double

Distance runner Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia added another chapter to his incredible career on Sunday at the world track and field championships, winning gold in the men's 5,000-metre race to secure the same double he won in the 2008 Olympics.
Bekele, 27, controlled the pace for most of the race and withstood a Kenyan challenge mid-race and a furious charge around the final bend from American Bernard Lagat for the victory.

The two were sprinting side by side until Bekele found another gear and pulled away in the final 50 metres.

"It was a very hard race," Bekele said. "I'll never forget this race. I never made a double in the Olympics and world championships. I'm so happy."

Bekele became the first Ethiopian to win 5,000 world championship gold. The Ethiopian finished the race in 13 minutes 17.09 seconds, while Lagat settled for silver with a time of 13:17.33. The American was elated with his performance, as he was running on a left ankle that had been sewn up with four stitches and numbed before the final.

"I didn't know [if] I was going to run," he said. "It is a huge cut." Lagat suffered the injury when he was spiked in the qualifiers.

James Kwalia C'Kurui of Qatar won bronze.

Bekele won the 10,000m earlier in the meet. He took gold in both races during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

His domination in the 5,000 and 10,000 is similar to Usain Bolt's iron grip on the 100 and 200 — and Bekele has done it over a longer period of time.

The Ethiopian has won gold in the 10,000 in every major world meet (Olympics and worlds) since 2003, and is the reigning 5,000 champ since the 2008 Olympics. He also holds world records in both disciplines.

Controversy in women's 1,500

Spain's Natalia Rodríguez looks on as a member of the medical staff checks on the condition of Gelete Burka of Ethiopia (AP)
Natalia Rodríguez was disqualified after winning the women's 1,500-metre final, handing Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain the gold medal.

Rodríguez, of Spain, made a charge down the backstretch during the final lap and bowled over leader Gelete Burka of Ethiopia while trying to squeeze through on the inside. Rodríguez crossed the line in first place but an official review came quickly.

The Spaniard also briefly stepped off the track after the collision. It took less than an hour for IAAF officials to overturn the result.

The battle for second was very close, and at the end of the day it turned out to be the race for gold.

Jamal narrowly clipped Great Britain's Lisa Dobriskey at the line, finishing in 4:03.74, 1/100th of a second better than Dobriskey's 4:03.75.

American Shannon Rowbury was bumped up to the bronze-medal position, finishing in 4:04.18.

The change in results probably won't console Burka, who led most of the way and was in prime position for a medal, but finished in 11th after the collision. She collapsed in dismay after the race. Burka's only gold medal in the 1,500 was during the 2008 world indoor championships.

Mulaudzi wins physical 800m
Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa survived a very physical men's 800-metre final to win gold

He finished in one minute 45.29 seconds for the victory.

Mulaudzi made his move on the first turn during the bell lap, pulling in front of a pack filled with flying elbows and shoulder shoves.

The South African survived a serious challenge from American Nick Symmonds to maintain his lead, and in the final 50 metres Kenya's Alfred Yego and Bahrain's Yusuf Kamel emerged out of the pack to threaten Mulaudzi.

If the finish line was extended by a few metres, Yego and Kamel would have caught Mulaudzi, but he managed to hold on just long enough for the win and dipped at the finish line before collapsing in exhaustion.

Yego and Kamel finished in exactly 1:45.35, which was 4/100ths of a second slower than Mulaudzi. Yego nabbed silver when officials narrowed the times down to thousandths of a second.

It's Mulaudzi's first major title.

Four continue hunt for the $1 Million Jackpot (Bekele is one of them)

Monte-Carlo - The ÅF Golden League 2009 re-starts on Friday 28 August with the Weltklasse Zürich, the fifth of six meetings in the ÅF Golden League 2009, with four athletes remaining in the season long hunt for the $1 Million Jackpot.

Two of the contenders, Kenenisa Bekele (5000m / 10,000m) and Richards (400m), won individual event titles at 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Berlin, Germany (15 – 23 Aug), while the third Kerron Stewart took silver (100m), and the fourth, Yelena Isinbayeva (Pole Vault), had a rare failure and didn’t secure any medal.

Remaining Contenders for the $1 Million Jackpot:


3000m/5000m - Kenenisa Bekele (ETH):
Berlin 13:00.76; Oslo 13:04.87; Rome 12:56.23; Paris (3000m) 7:28.64


100m - Kerron Stewart (JAM):
Berlin 11.00sec; Oslo 10.99; Rome 10.75; Paris 10.99

400m - Sanya Richards (USA):
Berlin 49.57sec; Oslo 49.23; Rome 49.46; Paris 49.34

Pole Vault - Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS):
Berlin 4.83m; Oslo 4.71; Rome 4.85; Paris 4.65


There are TEN ÅF Golden League event disciplines designated to the Jackpot in 2009, five events for men and five for women, as follows:

Men: 100m, 400m, 3000m/5000m, 110m Hurdles, Javelin Throw.
Women: 100m, 400m, 100m Hurdles, High Jump, Pole Vault.

Athletics’ biggest yearly payday - ÅF Golden League Jackpot

The prize - $1 Million

The requirement - ‘6 out of 6’

The annual drama that is the season long campaign to claim the $1 Million Jackpot offered by the ÅF Golden League continues in 2009 with its ‘winner takes all’ ethos. Athletes are required to win at all six meetings in the series to acquire at least a share of athletics’ biggest yearly payday.

The possibility of a secondary prize also exists.

To sustain the active participation in the Jackpot of as many athletes as possible through to the culmination of the series, should NO athlete manage to attain six wins and claim the $1 Million, then anyone with five victories will share half the original prize - $500,000. NOTE. this secondary prize is only on offer should nobody win his or her event at all six meetings.

Cities and Dates for 2009 -

Berlin, GER – Sunday 14 June
Oslo, NOR – Friday 3 July
Rome, ITA – Friday 10 July
Paris, FRA – Friday 17 July
Zürich, SUI – Friday 28 August
Brussels, BEL – Friday 4 September


South Sudan: A youth football lesson

Juba (Sudan) - A youth football tournament is the first international sporting event in Southern Sudan. But amid historical difficulties the hosts seem to be prepared for it. Sudan is a stunning country and visitors from ten countries are here witnessing stark differences – almost like day and night – between venues Khartoum and Wedmedani in the north and Juba in the fledgling autonomous Southern Sudan.

By The Nation (Kenya), by Gishinga Njoroge | 08.24.2009

Khartoum, flourishing in Sudan’s newfound vast oil reserves, is growing at a phenomenal rate akin to the “new world” centres in the Middle East such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The city’s new infrastructure includes mega-structures such as marvelous bridges connecting the commercial capital Khartoum and satellite cities Omdurman and Bahri. There are fine multilane roads and large bus park stages sufficient for its public transport (mini-buses, quite like Kenyan “matatu”) system.

Other incredible facilities include provision of water and electricity to an estimated 98 per cent of the vast city’s residents, who are estimated at 2.3 million.

An education and skills training system has produced enough personnel to push ambitious national programmes to higher levels. For instance, an industry manufacturing two-seater aeroplanes and helicopters started churning them out of the production line earlier this year.

But Khartoum has not always had those impressive credentials of a much desired city to live in – until in the last few years after stepped-up exploitation of the country’s vast natural resources, including petroleum, iron, copper, chromium, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver and gold.

The civil war between the Republic of Sudan Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in the South ended with a Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Kenya in 2005.

Southern Sudan, producer of most of the country’s oil, keeps a 50 per cent share of the oil revenues from the South while the other half goes to the North. Ninety-eight percent of Southern Sudan revenues come from the two oil producing states of Unity and Upper Nile, which have been feeding the region since 2005. The rest comes from non-oil revenues and grants from donor countries.

But due to many problems – the region has not seen peace since the 1950s – Southern Sudan is one of the world’s worst examples of deprivation. The region was granted autonomy in 1972 but, after a brief break in the war, hostilities broke out again.

The political Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its armed wing, the SPLA, in 1983 started campaigns for the independence of the region but these culminated with the CPA over 20 years later. Over 50 years of virtually no development in the South has left region badly in need of assistance to catch up with rest of the world and, not least, other parts of northern Sudan.

The staging of some of the Cecafa Under-17 Youth Championship in the Southern Sudan capital of Juba, is, believe it or not, like hosting the Olympics. With their limited resources, Juba residents, including President Salva Kiir, enthusiastically welcomed the four Group C nations – Kenya, Uganda, and Zanzibar – with unbelievable warmth.

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Gabriel Changson Chang, took full charge of the competition in a decaying stadium which dates back to the 1950s but whose frantic efforts to make it usable were evident as workers pressed on with sprucing it up everyday.

President Kiir told a packed crowd during the opening ceremony that the event was historic because it would encourage Southern Sudanese youth to engage in sports and integrate with their peers in the neighbouring states.

The Sports Minister said: “This is not only our first ever international sports competition to organise but, indeed, the first international event of any kind. Everyone will benefit in building organisational capacity.”

The challenges facing not only sports people but everyone in Juba are immense. Apart from the stadium, there are only two or three other open grounds where someone can kick a football. A lot of ground in Juba, or Southern Sudan for that matter, is dangerous. The war left many places “spiked” with mine bombs and are dangerous to trend.

Basic agriculture, building of houses and road contruction can only take place after experts – from United Nations, NGOs and volunteer bodies – have combed the ground to detonate mines. But there aren’t enough of these experts.

After Saturday’s matches, Kenya’s campaign in the championship appeared to have ended after losing their second match 4-1 against Uganda. In their opener last Thursday, the Kenyan boys were beaten 3-1 by Zanzibar. Today they play Ethiopia, whom they must beat by at least 2-0 or be eliminated.

But the malaise of Kenyan youth football has already been exposed. Whereas the selection has a nationwide representation, little attention was paid to their preparation. Many in the bunch, for instance, only got to know each other over the days they have been in Juba. The youngsters are not seasoned professionals to meet and make a cohesive team within four days.

The Uganda and Zanzibar coaches confirmed they have structures for consistent age group teams. One would have been led to believe that, since the early season staging of the Copa Coca-Cola Youth tournament in Kenya, a standing Under-17 team which progressed to an international tournament in South Africa was in place.

That is not true. The U-17 team was continued to be broken and reshuffled and now has no ‘face of Copa’. In the current squad of 20 there are only eight ‘Copa survivors’: Frederick Odhiambo (although injured in Juba), Ian Otieno, Robinson Mwangi, Wilson Kimani, Yusuf Ahmed, Feisal Iddi, Job Tinyo and Daniel Mwaura.

Coach Rajab Iddi was bitter about the approach of managing the team. He said: “There were too many people jostling for the running of the team and I honestly had to fight interference. It’s a shame that the team was literally cobbled up and there was virtually nil training.”

Kenya had their best chance to put a team into lengthy training. The tournament was on the calendar for the entire year and was actually previously to be held in Kenya. Even though they cite lack of money for not running age group national teams, Kenyan authorities had an all-expenses-paid invitation to the Cecafa event but they still would not prepare their team well.

Monday’s fixtures: Juba: Kenya v Ethiopia (8am, followed by a grand group closing carnival and closing ceremony), Zanzibar v Uganda (4.30pm); Khartoum: Tanzania v Somalia (9.30pm), Sudan v Malawi (9.30pm); Wadmedani: Burundi v Rwanda (9.30pm).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ethiopian Abdosh gets second chance in 5,000 meters

BERLIN, Aug 20 - Ethiopian Ali Abdosh will get a second chance to compete for the world 5,000 meters gold medal on Sunday after a jury of appeals reinstated him on Thursday.

The national champion was spiked and lost a shoe early in the race but, to the cheers of a near sell-out crowd, tried valiantly to make up more than 200 meters.

He finished a non-qualifying 13th out of the 16 runners but was allowed to advance by the jury of appeals.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Medal for Ethiopia, Berlin 2009

Very big win for Deresse Mekonnen.

Showdown as Bekele returns to haunt Kenyans

After his record-equalling fourth straight world 10,000m title on Monday, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele is done with partying and will line up in the 5,000m metres on Thursday in his bid to complete another distance running double.


Ethiopian Dibaba out of world 5000m

BERLIN (AFP) - Reigning Olympic 5000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba has pulled out of the 5000m at the World Athletics Championships here because of injury.

Dibaba, a two-time world champion over the 5000m (2003 and 2005) who is also the Olympic 10,000m champion, pulled out of the longer race last weekend.

Dibaba, also the current world record holder over 5000m, spent much of early 2009 injured and registered only two 5000m performances, setting a world best time to qualify for these worlds and then losing to Kenyan Linet Masai in New York.

The Ethiopian nicknamed the "Baby Faced Destroyer" missed the Bislett Games in Oslo in June because of a nagging ankle injury.

Her absence will make a severe dent in Ethiopia's medal hopes.

Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, finished fourth in the medals table at the last worlds in Osaka in 2007 with a haul of four medals, three gold and one silver, behind leaders the United States, Kenya and Russia.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The greatest disance runner Kenenisa Bekele, Berline2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

CECAFA Youth Cup Ready To Kick Off In Sudan

Twelve teams are currently preparing to battle for honour in the Council for East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) U-17 championship, which will kick off in Sudan on August 19.

Nigeria and Egypt’s U-17 teams have been invited to play in the championship that will be held in three cities of Sudan, including Juba, which only recently found peace after years of conflict.

The other teams that will take part include the host nation, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Somalia, Burundi and Eritrea. After the opening ceremony on Wednesday, Ethiopia will launch the Group B matches against Zanzibar at 2:30pm in Juba before Kenya clash with Uganda at 4:30pm.

Group A action will kick off on August 20 with Somalia taking on world champions Nigeria at 5:30pm at the Stade El Merreikh in Khartoum, before hosts Sudan take on Tanzania at 9:30pm.

Group C matches will be in the city of Wadmedani and action will also start on August 20, when defending champions Burundi engage Eritrea at 5:30pm before Rwanda play guests Egypt at 9:30pm.

All the teams are expected to arrive in Khartoum on Sunday (August 16). The Group B teams, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zanzibar and Uganda, will then be flown to Juba.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CECAFA U-17 football tournament: Ethiopia v Zanzibar (Juba, S. Sudan, 2.30pm on 19 Aug 2009)

(Kenya) - Below are the fixtures for this month's Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) championships taking place in Sudan.

The regional event, known as the Cecafa U-17 tournament, is slated for 19-31 August in three Sudanese cities - Khartoum, Juba and Medani. It is being sponsored by Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir to the tune of US$ 700,000.

Aug. 19 - Ethiopia v Zanzibar (Juba 2.30pm); Kenya v Uganda (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 20 - Somalia v Nigeria (Khartoum 5.30pm); Sudan v Tanzania (Khartoum 9.30pm )

Aug. 21 - Zanzibar v Kenya (Juba 2.30pm); Uganda v Ethiopia (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 22 - Nigeria v Tanzania (Khartoum 5.30pm); Somalia v Sudan (Khartoum 9.30pm ),

Aug. 22 - Eritrea v Rwanda (Medani 5.30pm); Egypt v Burundi (Medani 9.30pm).

Aug. 23 - Kenya v Ethiopia (Juba 2.30pm); Zanzibar v Uganda (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 24 - Tanzania v Somalia (Khartoum 5.30pm); Sudan v Nigeria (Khartoum 9.30pm ).

Aug. 24 - Rwanda v Burundi (Medani 5.30pm); Eritrea v Egypt (Medani 9.30pm).

Aug. 25 - Rest Day.

Aug. 26 & 27 - Quarter finals

Aug. 28 & 29 - Semi finals (Khartoum).

Aug. 30 - Rest Day.

Aug. 31 - Third place play offs/Finals (Khartoum).
Cross posted from Sudan Watch on Wednesday 12 August 2009: Fixtures of CECAFA U-17 football tournament in Sudan 19-31 Aug 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ethiopian couple Dibaba and Sihine could miss athletics worlds

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Ethiopian couple Sileshi Sihine and Tirunesh Dibaba are fitness doubts for the world championships in Berlin which start on Saturday.

"Tirunesh and Sileshi are in Germany but they are having medical treatment. Both have suffered injuries in practice," national coach Woldemaskal Kostire told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday.

"It is possible they will participate ... if their injuries improve but we don't know yet."

Dibaba, the Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres champion, has a torn muscle while her husband has a dislocation, said Kostire without giving further details.

The 23-year-old Dibaba won the 5,000-10,000 double at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki.

Monday, August 10, 2009

IAAF Worlds preview: Women's 5000m

That this event will chiefly be a battle between Ethiopia and Kenya is no great surprise - after all the two countries occupy the top 11 places on the World Lists. Possibly more of a shock, though, has been the relatively low-key nature of an event which has yet to truly ignite this season.
Maybe the Olympic Stadium in Berlin will be the place where we will truly see the 12-and-a-half lap event come to the boil.

The fastest in the world this year is Tirunesh Dibaba, the 2003 and 2005 World champion and Olympic gold medallist from Beijing last year. Dibaba suffered injury in the winter and has raced just twice all season in her tentative return to action. In her first race back she suffered a rare defeat to Kenya's Linet Masai in New York but the World record holder looked more like her old self in London with victory in a season leading 14:33.65. Ethiopia has, however, named a team of five for this event and it is uncertain as to whether Dibaba will definitely run in the 5000m. She is also entered in the 10,000m.

Should Dibaba decide to compete, her erstwhile rival the defending World champion Meseret Defar represents her strongest threat. Defar is unbeaten over all distances this year and defeated a strong field in Oslo in 14:36.38 in her one outdoor 5000m appearance this season. Possibly more telling, though, was her brilliant 10,000m PB of 29:59.20 in wet conditions in Birmingham suggesting her form has moved up a notch since Oslo.

The second fastest athlete over 5000m this year is the third string Ethiopian Meselech Melkamu, who was an impressive winner in Ostrava (14:34.17). She has also recorded the second fastest time in history for the 10,000m and she may opt to solely focus on the longer event.

The Kenyan challenge is spearheaded by the 2007 World Silver medalist Vivian Cheriuyot. The diminutive Cheruiyot was outgunned by the Ethiopians in Ostrava and Oslo but remains a respected opponent.

Cheruiyot is joined on the Kenyan team by Sylvia Kibet who is earning a reputation for securing fourth place finishes. She placed in that ‘bogey' position at the 2007 World championships and last summer's Olympic Games and finished where else but fourth in a personal best time of 14:37.77 in Oslo. The third Kenyan string Iness Chenonge has a best of 14:41.62, finishing seventh in Oslo. The other two Ethiopian athletes selected for the squad are Sentayehu Ejigu, who made a big advance to record 14:40.00 for second in London, and Dibaba's younger sister Genzebe (14:55.52).

Outside of the Ethiopian and Kenya challenge the maverick Ethiopian-born Turk Elvan Abeleygesse is a dark horse. She has raced just once over the distance this season, winning in Castellon in May in a modest 15:30.47 but she is the Olympic silver medalist and a fifth place finisher in Osaka at the 2007 World championships. Kim Smith of New Zealand is the fastest non-Ethiopian and Kenyan athlete entered in the field but she too may opt to focus on the 10,000m.