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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two Countries to Cheer For

I am rooting for the runner from Ethiopia to medal this Friday in the Olympics. The following is an article I found on the Ethioblog I enjoy following.

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba aiming for first Gold Medal in Olympics
Ethiopia's long distance runner Tirunesh Dibaba has yet to win Olympic gold medal and this comping Friday, she is heavily favored to win the gold medal in the women's 10,000 meters in Beijing. Just 23 years old, Tirunesh Dibaba has already won four gold medals in world championships and five gold medals in World Cross Country Championships. And she has the world record in women's 5000 meters, which she broke the record by more than five seconds with a time of 14 minutes, 11.15 seconds last June.
The following is a summary written By Adam Buckley Cohen of Runner's World magazine.
How to describe Ethiopia? A country roughly twice the size of Texas with three times as many people. A complex blend of massive highlands and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley. One of the oldest inhabited areas in the world, perhaps the seat of all human migration. Or, if you're a track fan, the alpha and omega of distance running. At the Athens Olympics, in the 5000 and 10,000 meters, Ethiopian men and women took home seven of 12 medals, improving on the six golds they won four years earlier in Sydney. So how does a country that constantly battles droughts and famines of biblical proportions beat out the combined total of every other country in the world?
Tirunesh Dibaba, a wisp of a 23-year-old from the hamlet of Bekoji, doesn't have an easy answer. All she knows is what works for her. Standing five-foot-one and weighing just south of 100 pounds, the doe-eyed Dibaba has used a fearless racing style crowned by a blistering kick to win four world championships on the track, four more in cross-country, the world record in the 5000, and an Olympic bronze.
Although her third-place performance in Athens made her, at 19, the youngest Ethiopian ever to medal at the Olympics, Dibaba was hardly ecstatic about the performance. "I would have liked to win gold. My aim is always gold." In Beijing, she will be favored to win the 10,000.
On the men's side, Dibaba's countryman Kenenisa Bekele is perhaps an even stronger favorite. He's the defending champion, the world record holder at the distance (and at the 5000), and the successor to his "teacher and idol," the great Haile Gebrselassie. In Beijing, the now-35-year-old Gebrselassie may be back for one final try at the 10,000 (if he chooses not to run the marathon), setting up a classic race with his protege.
Whoever is on the track—Bekele, Geb, Dibaba—you can be sure millions of Ethiopians will be watching. Dibaba, speaking for her teammates, says, "I race for my country. I do not want to disappoint my country."
Ed's Note:The Women's 10,000 Meters Final will be held on Friday August 15, 2008 at 22:45 Beijing Time (10:45 AM ET ; 14:45 GMT)NBC will broadcast the event at 10:45 PM ET Friday night (August 15, 2008)