RIO Olympic Glory: How African villages are raising Olympic Champions

Iyana Almaz, Photocredit:

In the little village of Bekoji, East Africa, Ethiopia, there is a unique African tradition that has changed the course of Olympic games. This rural community has produced at least 20 Olympic gold medalists in long distance running since 1994.

In 2016 Rio Olympic games, long-distance runners such as Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Derartu Tulu, Tariku Bekele, Ejegayehu Dibaba, Tiki Gelana and Fatuma Roba remain great inspiration for Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.

These seven Ethiopian athletes were raised in the little village of Bekoji and combined they have won at least 16 Olympic medals, and at least 10 gold medal before Rio Olympics.


champions in the making running on the rough plains of bekoji, photo credit:

Ethiopia is the most successful nation in the 10,000 Olympic track event, with at least ten gold medals among its total of 24 before 2016 Olympic games.  Add other Ethiopian greats in the Olympic long distance history like Haile GebrselassieAbebe BikilaMamo Wolde, Gezahegne Abera and emerging stars like Almaz Ayana then you get the enormity of this success.

Village life in Africa, where kids trek long distance to school and wors hip places has inspired a golden generation of enterprising runners. In East Africa’s rugged mountain environment, you have remote highlands preparing rural dwellers for Olympic glory.

Ethiopia is blessed with natural running tracks: hills, woodlands, high altitude and undulating slopes that have fashioned little children to a distinctive running posture. This tells part of the story.


Bekoji village of champions in Ethiopia, photo credit:

Ethiopia has gained international recognition for its runners beginning at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, won by Adebe Bikila, who won the race on bare foot. He hails from a village in the Shewa region, northwest of Addis Ababa

But this is the beginning. In neighboring East African country Kenya, the story is the same.




You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: