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Sunday, 27 July 2008

Celebration and hope In New York City

Tedla Asfaw

I was alerted by my kids this morning around 8 am, Sunday July 27,  to watch the New York City Half Marathon on channel seven which I completely forgot about. Last year because of the presence of Haile Gebreselasse for the first time here in New York City and the wide media coverage of the event we went to lower Manhattan to cheer Haile..

Kathrina Dereba from Kenya whom I met last year in Manhattan with Haile and has a nice photo with her gracefully won the women race easily this time and I have no idea who won the men race and if at all there were Ethiopians. I know too there are Ethiopians who live in Bronx and run this race so I hoped to see one of them on the finish line.

Luckily comes the video clip following Deribasse's win and I saw two gentle men on the finishing line and our own Tadesse Tola comes from behind and won the race in one hour and fifty eight seconds in a spectacular finish and the celebration in my home has already started.

My Sunday morning indeed started with dance thanks to Tadesse Tola a young promising athlete and I promise to him next year I will be there with my huge flag with friends to cheer him for another win.

This win is almost similar to the November 2001 New York City Marathon won by Tesfaye from Ethiopia who came for the first time and set the course record and failed to defend his title and I heard  last year from fellow Ethiopian athletes that Tesfaye is in serious health problem. Our thought and prayers are with him and his families.

These young athletes who come here and surprise us are Ethiopia's  precious assets who bring always positive things when all other matters regarding our mother country is dismal. Here in New York those who were there and cheer Tadesse should be thanked for supporting our athletes.

Imagine poor and starving Ethiopians back home stop for few minutes and cheer their own athletes and  go back and worrying what to feed their children and their families. The lesson for my kids here today was simple. Ethiopians do not accept second place in any race and it is up to each one of us to be the best on all fields we put ourselves. First class doctors,engineers,lawyers etc and sadly we lack good and wise political leaders and we have to work on that if we want to avoid  being called the beggar nation and celebrate our athletics domination with no fear of adjectives like poor and starving.

At the time of great suffering of our people especially children and the elderly Tadesse  brought hope for few minutes here in New York City for my family and for millions of Ethiopians back home and the coming  August surely will bring many cheers for Ethiopians and our eye will be on Olympics 2008 in China.