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Eritrean Athletes Poised to Leave Their Mark at the 19th World Athletics Championships

Tesfaldet Mebrahtu Translated By Habtom Tesfamichael

Scheduled for August 19-27, 2023, the 19th World Athletics Championship is set to unfold in Budapest, Hungary. Amid the array of nations participating, the Eritrean national athletics team stands ready to engage with a squad of six gifted athletes. Fueled by an unflagging devotion to their sport and buoyed by past accomplishments, these athletes are primed to showcase their prowess, upholding Eritrea’s distinguished legacy in athletics.

Eritrea boasts a storied history in the World Athletics Championships, replete with noteworthy feats that have captivated its populace and gained global acclaim. The nation’s initial foray in 2009 witnessed Zeresenay Tadesse, a remarkable Eritrean athlete, securing a silver medal in the fiercely contested 10,000 meters competition.

In 2015, Eritrea enjoyed an unprecedented moment of glory when Ghirmay Ghebreslassie clinched a gold medal in the marathon event held in Beijing. Ghirmay’s triumph underscored Eritrea’s burgeoning prominence in long-distance running, a testament to the nation’s unwavering commitment to nurturing and cultivating athletic talents.

With the 19th World Athletics Championships looming, the Eritrean national athletics team readies to build upon this legacy of distinction. Comprising six athletes, this squad stands as a formidable force, poised to compete across diverse disciplines.

Nazriet Woldu

Among the women representing Eritrea, the accomplished Olympian Nazriet Woldu stands out. Nazriet, a consistent performer in recent years, emerges as a strong contender for a medal in the women’s marathon. Notably, her remarkable achievements encompass a fourth-place finish in the preceding World Athletics Championships held in Oregon. This was preceded by her record-breaking feats in Degu, South Korea. Impressively, just two months after her Oregon endeavor, she claimed a bronze medal in the Sydney Marathon.

Nazriet, adorned with numerous national records, enjoys worldwide recognition as a leading luminary in the sports arena. Her stellar showing in the esteemed Boston Marathon, culminating in a top-six placement, has propelled her into the spotlight. Bolstered by her rich experience and a string of marathon triumphs, widespread anticipation heralds her ascent to the medal podium this year. This sentiment reverberates in the words of Livingstone Abraham, coach of the Eritrean national athletics team, and echoes the consensus among various experts. Diligently primed for the impending event, Nazriet stands in excellent physical form. Having recently joined Eritrea’s national athletics squad following rigorous training alongside luminaries from around the globe, she exudes confidence in her abilities. Nazret attributes her international training to furnishing her with invaluable insights into her competitive standing.

This year carries unique significance for Eritrea, marking the debut of two female athletes representing the country in the World Athletics Championships. Alongside Nazriet in the women’s marathon stands Dolshi Tesfu, a rising star in Eritrea’s athletic panorama. Dolshi’s marathon performance underscores steady advancement, typified by her remarkable second-place finish clocking 2:21:35 in the Rotterdam Marathon. This time remains the fastest by any Eritrean female athlete.

Dolshi Tesfu

Her maiden marathon in the Valencia Marathon last year solidified her standing as the fastest Eritrean athlete. Additionally, Dolshi’s silver medal at the East African Half Marathon Championships in Massawa and her Eritrean record-setting run at the Asmara Half Marathon in 2022 further underscore her prowess. These Olympian athletes’ feats are poised to usher in glory for both their names and Eritrea at the World Athletics Championships, with the women’s marathon slated for August 26th.

Eritrea’s male marathon runners have carved out a legacy of remarkable victories across a spectrum of competitions. Once hamstrung by limited team numbers in international events, the nation has now made strides, with over ten representatives set to don Eritrea’s colors. Notably, the Eritrean national athletics team heads to Budapest this year armed with a full contingent of athletes, including a reserve player. This augmented participation plays a pivotal role in nurturing collaboration and cohesion.

In the realm of men’s marathon, Eritrea touts an impressive lineup of athletes, each armed with distinct strengths and laurels. A standout in this ensemble is Merhawi Mebrahtu, who shall represent Eritrea in the fiercely competitive 10,000 meters event.

Olympian athlete Oqbe Kibrom notably holds the distinction of recording the fastest marathon time among Eritrean athletes this year. His journey in athletics commenced after Eritrea secured gold at the World Athletics Championships through Olympian Girmay Gebreselassie. This former cyclist showcased his extraordinary capabilities in the Barcelona Marathon, clocking an impressive 2:05:51 – the fastest Eritrean marathon time of the year. Oqbe Kibrom further etched his name in Eritrea’s annals by setting a national marathon record in the 2020 Valencia Marathon.

Goitom Kifle

Recent years have witnessed Oqbe Kibrom’s participation in prominent events like the Tokyo Olympics and the Oregon World Athletics Championships. The latter saw him grappling with a hamstring sprain mere days before the competition’s commencement. Nonetheless, the Olympian athlete assures of his prime health status and top-tier fitness. He extols the virtues of training alongside three fellow Eritrean athletes, a union cultivated over several years, stressing their collective readiness to etch their names and bring honor to their nation. “We’re all in excellent shape, poised to leave a lasting impact both as individuals and representatives of our homeland,” he asserts.

Among the esteemed athletes representing the Eritrean national athletics team, Olympian Goitoom Kifle occupies a seasoned role. Laden with high expectations, Goitoom is poised to play a pivotal role in the team’s performance. His standout achievement includes a remarkable personal best of 2:05 in the 2021 Valencia Marathon, a testament to his exceptional abilities and unwavering dedication. Notably, Goitoom further showcased his mettle with a commendable sixth-place finish in this year’s race held in Degu, South Korea. His consistent achievements and notable showings have cemented his reputation as a formidable athlete on the international stage.

Berhane Tsegay, triumphant in the national half marathon hosted in Mendefera last year, is diligently preparing for the impending championship. His laurels encompass securing first place in the Copenhagen Marathon last year and clinching a bronze medal in this year’s Degu Marathon in South Korea, underscoring his exceptional talent and competitive spirit.

Merhawi Kesete, a proud ambassador of the Eritrean national athletics team at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Qatar, is poised to embark on a fresh odyssey as part of the national team – this time in Hungary. An erstwhile race witnessed Olympian Ezekiel Tewolde setting a national record in the Amsterdam Marathon. Merhawi Kesete, having achieved a personal best of 2:06, further bolstered his stature by securing a top-five finish in Japan this year.

Merhawi Mebrahtu

The national team’s footprint extends robustly to the 10,000m track event through Merhawi Mebrahtu, marking the athlete’s inaugural engagement in this category during the current year. The preceding year witnessed this athlete competing in the 5,000 meters at a similar event staged in Oregon. Moreover, Merhawi Kesete seized a silver medal at the Under-20 World Athletics Championships in Cali, Colombia, last year.

Zeresenay Tadesse, an Olympic stalwart, occupies a prominent echelon in Eritrea’s and global athletics history. Revered as the pioneer in securing gold, silver, and bronze medals for Eritrea across prestigious events like the World Athletics Championships, World Cross-Country Championships, Olympics, and World Half Marathon Championships, his legacy remains indelible.

A beacon in recounting the annals of Eritrean athletics, Zeresenay Tadesse extends heartfelt well wishes to the Eritrean national team as they brace for the forthcoming World Athletics Championships. He exudes confidence, affirming, “These athletes have already carved their mark and earned distinction for themselves and their nation through their exceptional performances. I trust they will return as victors, transcending any hurdles in their path.

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