Held every four years, the Olympic Games are considered the world’s foremost competition with over 200 nations participating in the event. Originally scheduled for 2020, the games are set to take place between July 23 – August 8, 2021, a year after the original date. Athletes in various disciplines have been preparing under extreme precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ethiopia, which has been participating in the Olympics since 1956, has achieved a great deal in the event with various athletes taking the podium. Following Abebe Bikila’s performance in 1960, Ethiopian athletes have made history in the Olympics as well as at various continental and international events.
Although the Tokyo Olympic Games will not hold spectators due to COVID-19, the competition has garnered a lot of attention.
Ethiopia will be represented in athletics, world taekwondo, swimming and cycling at the Tokyo Olympics. The four federations have been preparing for the past eight months and a total of 38 athletes will represent Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian athletics national team, which has been preparing since November, will compete in the 800, 1,500, 3,000, 3,000 steeplechase, 5,000, 10,000 meter, walk race and marathon.
Among the athletes named by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF), Solomon Barega in the 10k, Nibert Melak and Getnet Wale in the 5000 meter race are expected to shine in the Games.
Solomon has represented the Ethiopian national team in various continental competitions since 2016. He has won gold in the 5,000m race at the 2016 World Under-20 Championships, 3,000m at the 2019 World Youth Championships, in the 2018 World Indoor Championships and a silver medal in the 5,000m race in Doha, Qatar.
He is also one of the ten most promising athletes in Tokyo, following his personal best time in indoor and outdoor competitions.
Another athlete, Getnet Wale, who has also won a silver medal in3000m steeplechase at the 2016 Under-20 World Athletics Championships, silver in the 2018 African Athletics Championships, and a bronze medal at the Africa Championships, is expected to perform.
In January, 2021, Getnet finished second in the Olympic candidate trial competition in Addis Ababa. Furthermore, on February 9, 2021, Getnet ran a 7:24.98 in a 3000 meter race in Lievin, France, which is the second fastest of all-times in the event.
In addition, in April, he won the 5000 meter Ethiopian Championships and in June in Hengelo, Netherlands, he finished the 5000 meter race in 12:53.28.
Although lacking experience, Nibert Melak, a 21-year-old long-distance runner, will also take part in the 5000 meter race. His results have been impressive. In addition to his results in cross country competitions, the athlete finished second in the Ethiopian Championship in 13: 07.27 and qualified to the Hengelo trials. He finished second with a time of 12:54.22 to join the Tokyo Olympic athletics team.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian women athletes have dominated the Olympic Games compared to the men, bringing in more medals.
The Women’s team is led by Gudaf Tsegay in the 5000 meter race and Letesnebet Gidey in the 10,000 meter race.
Gudaf is a newcomer to the Olympic Games but is no stranger to running. She has won two silver and two bronze medals in the women’s 1,500 meters at the World Junior Championships, at the World Indoor Championships and the Doha World Championships.
Recently, she has been showcasing her skills, competing in the 5,000 and 10,000 distance races. Gudaf broke the 1500m indoor race record in 3:53.09, which was held by another Ethiopian, Genzebe Dibaba with a 3:55.17.
In addition, Gudaf has been included in the 5,000 meter race after clocking in 14: 13.32 at the Hengelo trials.
Considered to be a serial winner and one of the greats in long distance running, Letesenbet Gidey will take part in the 10,000 meter race. She started out at 3,000 meter and now specializes in cross-country championships. She has won five golds and one silver medal representing the Ethiopian athletics team between 2015 and 2019.
She is one of the best long-distance runners of all time, after breaking the record set by Almaz Ayana, with 29:17.45 at the Rio Olympics in the 10,000 meter race.
On June 6, 2021, Sifan Hassan set the 10k world record of 29:06.82 in Hengelo, improving the previous record of 29:17.45 held by Almaz. Just 2 days later on June 8, Letesenbet broke Sifan’s record at the Ethiopian trials on the same track with a time of 29:01.03, running the last lap in 63 sec.
The Ethiopian Athletics Federation hopes that these athletes will bring more medals than previous Ethiopian Olympic teams. 206 countries will compete in the Tokyo Olympics with 1,123 athletes competing in 33 sports event.
More than 85 percent of participating athletes have been vaccinated with COVID-19, and 45 athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.