Bekoji: Town of Runners
What would the Olympics be without Ethiopian athletes being featured among the medallists of the middle and long-distance athletics races?
More specifically what would it be without athletes from the town of Bekoji? Olympic legends Derartu Tulu, the Bekele brothers- Kenenisa and Tariku, Fatuma Roba, the Dibaba sisters- Ejegayehu, Tirunesh and Genzebe, Mestawet Tufa and Tiki gelani have at least one thing in common- they are all products of the humble town of Bekoji, in Ethiopia. As the town continues to earn more and more gold medals in the Olympic Games, the coach of all Bekoji medalist, Sentayehu Eshetu, continues to train the next generation of Olympians tirelessly.
[blockquote]Derartu Tulu won the Olympic 10,000 metres in Barcelona in 1992 and eight years later in Sydney. Fatuma Roba, won the Olympic marathon in 1996 in Atlanta; and the latest generation of champions are Tirunesh’s sister Genzebe, only 21 and already world indoor champion at 1500m, Kenenisa’s younger brother Tariku who won bronze this year and the new kid to join the ranks of Bekoji gold medallists is Tiki Gelana.[/blockquote]
The town has been dubbed ‘the town of runners’ and this year, producer Dan Demissie, released a film with this very title, documenting the life of aspiring young runners from Bekoji. The film, directed by British filmmaker Jerry Rothwell, features the preparation of coach Sentayehu Eshetu whilst focusing on two young Olympic hopefuls, Alemi and Hawii.
The film shows the training strategy of the runners of Bekoji, demonstrating the lack of facilities the East African country has. Aspiring Olympians from the town make their own running tracks, sometimes train without eating and use the forests as their gym, but it is evident that the well funded Olympic training of more developed countries has been no intimidation for the children of Bekoji.
Picture credit: selamta.tumblr.com
The running-obsessed town is 170 miles south of the capital, Addis Ababa, with plenty of donkeys and horses and goats and cows on the road, but few cars.
Bekoji was probably unheard of to a large majority of the world’s population, but over the years through its talented runners, with the help of an under-credited coach, it has triggered the curiosity of many.