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Eritrea’s Young Talent Daniel Teklehaymanot 40 Seconds Away from Gold at the London Olympics

Five hours, forty-six minutes, and thirty seven seconds 05:46:37 was the total time that took Eritrea’s Daniel Teklehaymanot, which is his first at the Olympic game. Eritrea’s Cycling federation also the first time that it is participating cyclists being represented by Daniel who only started as a professional peloton in 2012 with green Edge came in only 40 seconds after the Gold winner Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan that came in at 5:45:57.

Despite the many challenges Daniel managed to come in at the same time as Mark Cavendish a.k.a The Manx Missile who is the most successful sprinter in Tour de France history, that has won 23 Tour de France stages which puts him 4th on the Tour’s all-time list and 9th on the all time list of Grand Tour stage winners with 36 victories.

Not only that but Daniel also managed to score a much better time than many professional and experienced riders like Bradley Wiggins of Britain, that came in at 5:47:14, ++1:17 being 2012 Tour de France winner as well as the sixth most successful British Olympian that has won three gold, one silver and two bronze Olympic medals.

Spectators in the area of Box Hill mentioned that the British team had the luxury of training on the route numerous times; apparently even a year ago the exact route was closed off making the training even feel as the real one. This was later confirmed with a simple Google search

According to Roger Hammond, who raced both in Athens and Beijing, the London course is similar to that of 2004, where he finished seventh. “There is no one major climb but by the end of that one 75% of the peloton failed to finish. I know it’s a cliché but it will be a war of attrition.”

“Interesting, not a guaranteed sprint, it will be in pieces ninth time up. Then it will be a race to try to get together for the finish,” Kennaugh said.

At the start of the game Eritrean sport fans came out in droves with colorful flags to show their support to their resilient young rider, the support area in Box Hill was carefully chosen by the sport organizing committee Mr Dawit Ghebru & Mr Alula Abraha of London’s Eritrean community where Daniel needed support the most as they spent nine laps in the area. A sports enthusiast also of the organizing committee Mr Alula Abraha personally took the responsibility of physically scanning the area for possible best and free locations for Eritrean supporter’s days before the game. Most of the Eritrean supporters were located in Box Hill, but there were also many along the route as well as start and finish areas.

The atmosphere at the Box Hill area was indeed electrifying, with Eritrean supporters creating a huge buzz, the only visible flags in the area was the colorful Eritrean flag, which surprised many of the spectators that were less welcoming.

During the first lap at Box Hill Eritrean supporters were a bit concerned that they couldn’t spot Daniel as the first pack of cyclists went past leaving Daniel approximately four minutes behind, then news came in on the telephone from those that were following on TV, “there was an accident and Daniel had been caught up in the midst of it”, they added that he looked troubled desperately trying to change Tyres. Not long after that Daniel speeds through cutting the air like a sharp knife thereby lifting the Eritrean spirit even higher.

Sources close to Daniel mentioned that Daniel through his own words said, “Other cyclists in front of me fell down and couldn’t manage to avoid the accident; this was just before the hill. I had three spare bicycles, but the cars that were supposed to assist me were late, that killed more than 4 minutes of my time. By the time my bicycle was sorted I couldn’t see any other riders in front of me, which left me on my own and this devastated my moral! This was short lived though until I saw Eritrean flags hanged and waved in every corner…….(after a brief silence Daniel continued saying)……… a flag is a huge responsibility that hit me very hard! After that my moral was reverberated and I managed to join the rest of the group.”

Amongst the spectators there were cycling professionals and analysts that were heard saying “Daniel doesn’t have a chance as the gap had been widened and it will be difficult for him to catch up, the area is also hilly!”.

On the second lap Daniel had managed to not only catch up, but was seen rather relaxed, confident, and in control riding together with all the group. The analysts were obviously wrong as they did not know Eritrea’s difficult terrain, which is bread and butter for Eritrean cyclists! Nevertheless they were left stunned to see him make it in one lap, and they were forced to be Daniels supporters from that point on, they were heard questioning what they said earlier “he is on his own working hard and he has made it in one lap!?”.

Daniel today exceedingly did well as a one-man team, sources close to coach Yonas Zecarias mentioned that Daniel was still with full force on the finish line and would have got the Gold if he had more Eritrean riders that participated in the game.

After the games many had learnt that the Eritrean team had issues of transportation during the game, which the coach was forced to take a ride with other teams leaving behind Daniels’ Doctor and Head of the Eritrean National Organizing Committee.

Although there were many teams that had individual vehicles assigned to them, the reasons as to why Eritrea’s team was not afforded the opportunity is still unclear. There are unconfirmed speculations that the organizers of the game might not have wanted too many vehicles present at the event. Irrespective of the situation all teams should get equal treatment, clearly this can’t be right nor fair as it been an issue for Coach Yonas Zecarias leaving him with limited flexibility and control in exerting assistance to Daniel. At one point he was even worried on how to assist him for necessary refreshments. Earlier during the week at Daniels arrival to London arrangements for his pick up form the airport to the Olympic Village had also been an issue, leaving the Eritrean team to arrange the pick up through the Eritrean community residing in London.

Despite the challenges Daniel Tekehaymanot is a winner and to see him penetrate at such a young age in to a game that is highly dominated by Europeans and Aussies makes Dani boy an inspirational young talent with a bright future ahead of him INSPIRING GENERATIONS across Africa and beyond!


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