Aspiring Chinese marathoners embrace Ethiopia's hills
Chinese marathon instructor Gesang Ciren, a great admirer of Ethiopian athletes in light of their success on global stages, expressed his hope on Thursday that with similar dedication and hard work, Chinese runners will have the chance to replicate the success.
Gesang is no stranger to the Ethiopian highlands. He is in particular fascinated by the famous Entoto Mountains, a chain of hills on the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
Entoto Mountains, the lungs of Addis Ababa, is a major natural training avenue for Ethiopia's world-renowned marathoners and long-distance champions. Among others is Haile Gebrselassie, arguably the world's most successful distance runner of all time and the former President of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation.
Gesang, as he hopes to replicate what he dubbed the "world's great success in long-distance running", has been coaching prospective Chinese long-distance runners for more than five years in Ethiopia, with daily training sessions at the Entoto mountains.
"Close to half a dozen athletes came to Ethiopia all the way from China to learn the secrets behind the great success of Ethiopian marathoners," Gesang told Xinhua, adding, "Most of my athletes during their stay in Ethiopia have learned the essential value of hard work towards realizing their dreams of becoming the next marathon champions."
Chinese athletes often spend every morning session of their three months of training period practicing on the hills outside of Addis Ababa, mainly aspiring to elevate their breathing quality, which is a vital requisite to long-distance running.
In addition to the training sessions along the famous Entoto hills, Gesang and his dedicated marathoners also envisage to grasp some of the positive qualities of Ethiopian athletes.
"We have similar highland elevation in China, but not the profound experience of Ethiopian marathoners," Gesang said as he described Ethiopia as the home of world-renowned long-distance runners.
"My athletes come here to learn from Ethiopian athletes," he said. "Most of Ethiopian athletes started their training from their childhood, and this is one of the important differences we have noticed."
Duobujie, 24, is one among the Chinese athletes who have been training with Gesang for the past five years in Ethiopia.
Duobujie, a marathoner from the vastly mountainous Tibet Autonomous Region of China, said that his experience in the East African country has "immensely elevated" his athletics carrier.
"I have been training here for almost three months every year over the past five years period, and I have made noticeable improvements in my performance," Duobujie told Xinhua.
Preparing his endurance and tempo together with fellow Chinese and Ethiopian athletes, Duobujie eyes positive results in the upcoming Xuzhou City Marathon in China, which is scheduled to take place on March 24. And his ultimate dream is the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
"With current good momentum, I hope to qualify for Tokyo 2020," he said.
Duobujie and his fellow Chinese athletes have also caught the eyes of their Ethiopian counterparts, with much praise and support towards the dedication of the visiting Chinese runners.
Kassim Adelo, an Ethiopian long-distance running instructor, had over the past three years witnessed the positive progress of Chinese athletes as they train alongside Ethiopians.
"Our athletes (both Ethiopian and Chinese) have been taking uniform training sessions without favoritism," Kassim told Xinhua, "The athlete who trained the hardest will win, because sport is all about competition and only the best wins." (Xinhua)