Ethiopia’s Athletics Team Returns to Hero’s Welcome
ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian athletics team has been given a hero’s welcome upon their return to Addis Ababa after an outstanding performance at the world athletics championships.
More than 1700 athletes from 179 countries competed in this year’s championships held in the US, Oregon. The Ethiopian athletes collected ten medals including four golds, the second most of any country.
After nearly sixteen hours of flight, the athletes arrived at Addis Ababa Nole International Airport on Wednesday evening.
They were warmly welcomed by high-level government officials led by State minister of foreign affairs Ambassador Birtukan Ayano.
The Legendary athlete Haile Gebre Selassie described the athletes’ achievement as a manifestation of a resilient nation and unity. Athletics Federation President Derartu Tulu, on her part, said the victory shows that Ethiopia “can achieve many more results in other fields if we are united.”
On Thursday, the athletes celebrated their outstanding victory with residents of Addis Ababa by touring the streets of the capital.
The team, finally, headed to a recognition program held at the national palace where they welcomed by President Sahle-Work Zewde.
During her speech, the President thanked the athletes, telling them: “you have shown the face of the victorious Ethiopia, the Ethiopia we know, the Ethiopia we want”.
The President also said that the athletes’ victory “brings a smile to those who are worried, who are sad, who have a hard life, who wonder where we are as a country”.
She also reminded “Despite the attempt to divide, you have shown that there is no problem at the people level …, the victory is an indicator that there is light in the darkness”.
President Sahle-Work appreciated Commander Derartu Tulu “not only for her professionalism but also for her Ethiopianness”.
Various awards were presented to the members of the delegation in the presence of senior government officials and invited guests.
Athlete Gudaf Tsegai, who won the gold medal in 5,000 meters and a silver medal in the 1,500 meters women’s race, was awarded 2.5 million, the largest prize, for her double medal in the championship.
Athlete Letesenbet Gedey also received a total of 2 million Birr prize for winning the first gold medal in the 10000-meter women’s race as well as for her key role in the teamwork during the 5000m meters race.
Athlete Goitetom Gebreslase and Athlete Tamrat Tola also received a 1.75 million birr prize each for the gold medals they won in women’s and men’s marathons respectively.
A million birr award was also given to Mossinat Geremew, Workiwuha Getachew, and Lemecha Girma each for the silver medals they won in men’s marathon, 3000 meters women’s track race, and 3000 meters men’s track race respectively. A prize of 700,000 Birr was also given to the athletes who won the bronze medal in the championship.
*The story was updated on Thursday