When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Get Going

By: Sabrina Solomon

Meet Eritrean cyclist, Henok Mulubrhan. The reigning African champion and the current UCI Continental Team Bike Aid rider. The African Continental Cycling Championships (ACCC) are a series of cycling competitions held annually in both men and women category. The competitions include, Individual Time Trial (ITT), Team Time Trial (TTT), the recently introduced mixed relay and the final road race which decides the African cycling champion. The competitions have been held since 2001, and over the past 12 editions, the championship has been dominated by Eritrean riders. Henok, like his predecessors, has already shown what he is made of in tough races at home and in Europe. He is currently considered one of the continent’s biggest talents and was crowned African cycling champion after an incredible sprint win at Sharm El-sheik in March. We have conducted a brief interview; here we go…

  • It’s nice having you here Henok. Please introduce our readers with yourself.

The pleasure is all mine, and thank you for having me here. My name is Henok Mulubrhan and I’m a professional cyclist. I was born in Asmara on November 11, 1999 and was brought up here as well. I have always had love for cycling since my childhood. It was a dream I wanted to come true. Hence I joined cycling in 2014 after approval from my parents. I started with a mountain bike and eventually progressed to the third division a year later, and I finally joined Asbeco Club in 2016 in the second division. Later that year, I participated at the Junior World Cycling Championships in Qatar representing Eritrea. Accordingly, I have represented my country and my teams in various competitions ever since.

I also want to tell you that I have signed a new contract with a new team that will be effective on April 1.

  • Congratulations on your success. How was the African Championships this year?

Thank you. The African Continental Championships 2022 was an amazing competition. I am short of words to explain the feeling I had during that time. Cycling isn’t an easy job. I had to give all I could to reach the stage I am at the time. It is a collective sum of the sweat and tears I had shed. Of course it has a lot of challenges but I always had a clear goal and faced the hardships with enthusiasm.

I am always keen to learning more on how to maintain consistency. This year has started with a great success overall but consistency is of paramount importance to me. We need to keep practicing more and more. It keeps getting harder and so we should also get stronger and better. Eritrea has now maintained a big name among the ranks of the well-known countries in the cycling and athletics world. Hence, I strongly believe that to keep up the name of the country, the federations and all the pertaining institutions should put more effort on nurturing young cyclists and promoting the growing ones.

  • Is it true that the cyclists at the ACCC were particularly threatened by Eritrean riders?

Definitely they were. Eritrea has a big name and history in cycling. A lot of Eritrean cyclists have been dominating the African championship and have been making names in other world competitions. The enthusiasm that we have and the effort that we put into what we do is probably the reason that makes Eritrean cyclists outstanding. We as a country have the potential to conquer the cycling world and this puts pressure on other cyclists.

  • Multiple successes have been achieved in cycling this year, what is the secret?

I think it’s because the extent of our ability has been growing as a nation. The relentless need for growth and success pushed us to step out of our comfort zones. Our nation’s name has crossed the continent and reached in Europe now.

The government and the fans keep supporting us from the very beginning which also inspired motivation in us. All of the Eritrean cyclists who have excelled in major international competitions provide additional impetus for the young ones to upsurge interest in sports. The pioneer heroes became role models for many of us to devote our efforts intensely to cycling. We are confident in our potentials and in what we can do as we saw our older brothers and sisters achieve great success in the sport world. Our support for each other and the federation made us confident and undeniably strong.

  • What impact will the growing success have to our nation?

First of all it is making our nation’s name shine in the world, we are putting our print in the sport world. As of today, Eritrea is ranked 21st in the UCI nation ranking and we’ll keep going until we reach the top. Despite the biased points of view of some people from the outside and despite how small our country is, this country has been the most successful cycling nation in African for several years and brings forth the greatest talents. Our brothers and friends such as Merhawi Kudus, Amanuel Ghebregziabhier, Daniel Teklehaymanot, Biniam Ghirmay and more are making history by finding their way into World Tour Teams. Hence, I am convinced that more young riders will come and make history in the cycling world. There’s no doubt that we can prevail as a cycling nation. Eritrean cyclists have become one source of pride for Eritrea and Africa in general.

  • Any final remarks

Sport in general and cycling in particular has always been a part of the daily routine in our country. I’m sure there are a lot of young boys and girls who are dreaming and wanting to become cyclists. I would love to tell them to dream big and work hard to live what they have been dreaming. I would love to advise all of the cyclists in Eritrea to keep on going without getting distracted. Have a clear goal and give your 100%. I did work very hard to reach here and everyone else should do that too to be successful in whatever they are doing.

I’m also so grateful to my fans who have been so supportive wherever I went to and all of my coaches. I’m also grateful to my family who have been very supportive of my career from the very beginning. And I want to dedicate the African Championship victory to our deceased sister cyclist Deset Kidane. Thank you!

  • Thank you for time!