Chinese martial arts flourish in Ethiopia

By XINHUA

Image courtesy: Getty Creative

In a sports center located at the heart of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a burst of shouts come out from trainees practicing Chinese martial arts.

The trainees, aged from 7 to 65 years, practice the Chinese martial arts, Kung Fu and kickboxing at the Dave Dan Wushu and Kickboxing Training Center.

“Martial arts are not to harm other people but to teach respect, humanity, sincerity, self-defense, and search for inner peace,” said master Dawit Terefe who works as a coach in the training center.

“Impressed by unbelievable fighting techniques of the popular Chinese film actors such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, I started learning Chinese martial arts at the age of 12 in 1993,” said Terefe in a recent interview with Xinhua.

“Chinese martial arts teach an excellent way of life,” said Terefe, adding that the sport helps people become strong, healthy, stay in good shape and develop excellent concentration.

In Ethiopia, children aged from 7 to 16 years have a real passion for martial arts while adults prefer kickboxing.

Terefe stressed that the Chinese martial arts are lifetime physical exercises and are performed with balanced movements between legs and hands, making them preferable to other exercises.

Terefe’s career as a Chinese martial arts instructor began 20 years ago but he became more popular after returning from Henan province of China where he attended nearly four months of intensive martial arts training.

“I was one of the four Ethiopians who were awarded a scholarship by Ethiopia’s Culture and Sports Minister in 2013 and acquired a rank of Master in Chinese martial arts from the Shaolin temple in China,” Terefe said.

“I first learned Shaolin Wushu, and then started learning other forms of martial arts with special emphasis on Sanda or Kickboxing,” the master recalled.

After he returned home, Terefe has participated in 25 martial arts competitions, majority of which were in Chinese kickboxing and he managed to win all of them.

Representing his country, Terefe also participated in the Afro-Asian martial arts competitions held in Egypt and won a bronze medal in kickboxing, the first medal the Horn of Africa nation earned in a martial arts contest.

According to a recent report by the Ethiopian Martial Arts Federation, there are over 800 martial arts training centers across Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation.

Among them, 60 are found in Addis Ababa and each appears to offer martial arts training for about 70 students in each season and at least a Wushu club exists in every small town of Ethiopia, the report indicated.

Haleluya Dawit, 16, is one of the over 70 students of master Dawit, striving to acquire higher martial arts belts, standards that are given for students to encourage them for the next level of training.

“I enjoy learning Wushu because it combines different techniques and gives me enlightenment,” said Dawit, who was practicing Chinese martial arts and a range of physical activities including splits, upward bow pose, high knees, horse stance and kicking along with her fellow classmates.

“Since I began attending the martial arts training, I have built up my confidence and defensive capability,” said Dawit, as she aspires to become a world champion in martial arts competitions.

Matiyas Belete, another student in the Dave Dan Wushu and Kickboxing Training Center, said that learning Chinese martial arts helped him promote self-discipline and quit bad habits.

“After I started attending the martial arts classes, I have enjoyed better strength, speed, power and flexibility,” said Belete.

Known for health and other benefits, Chinese martial arts are gaining popularity across Ethiopia as parents are willing to let their children learn the Chinese martial arts, Terefe said.

Terefe stressed that the Chinese martial arts are winning the hearts and souls of the Ethiopian youth and have become popular over time.

The government needs to consider sending more numbers of Ethiopian students to China to follow martial arts training to further promote the martial arts at the national level, the Chinese trained master said.

Achieving his long-time dream of becoming a martial artist, Terefe has participated in nine locally produced action films including as a lead actor.

Prior to his return, Terefe played an actor in one of the action films produced in China. He also performed a role in locally produced romance and documentary films as well as TV drama series.

“The Chinese martial arts is a philosophy through which one can understand the world,” Terefe added.

Kenya’s Rotich, Ethiopian Memuye win Paris Marathon

By CGTN Africa

Kenyan Elisha Rotich and Ethiopian Tigist Memuye, winners of the Paris marathon, on October 17, 2021, surrounded, from left to right, by Ethiopian Yenenesh Dinkesa (finish 2nd), Ethiopian Hailemaryam Kiros (2nd), Kenyan Hillary Kipsambu (3rd) and Ethiopian Fantu Jimma (3rd). / AFP

Kenya’s Elisha Rotich won the men’s race and Ethiopia’s Tigist Memuye topped the women’s podium at the Paris Marathon on Sunday.

Rotich set a course record as he crossed the line in two hours four minutes 21 seconds to finish ahead of Ethiopia’s Hailemaryam Kiros.

The 31-year-old Kenyan took nearly a minute off his personal best and broke Kenenisa Bekele’s seven-year course record of 2:05:04 as he picked up pace after the 25-kilometer mark.

Kenya’s Hillary Kipsambu came third after slipping two spots in the final stages of the race.

In the women’s race, Memuye ran a time of two hours 26 minutes and 12 seconds after a late surge to seal the biggest win of her career.

Memuye finished about three seconds ahead of Yenenesh Dinkesa with Fantu Jimma third as Ethiopians swept the podium.

The Paris Marathon, featuring 60,000 participants from 145 countries, was initially scheduled for April this year but was delayed by six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The race was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Kenyans Kipruto and Kipyogei Sweep in Boston Marathon Return

Benson Kipruto, left, and Diana Kipyogei, right, both of Kenya, celebrate at the finish line after winning the men’s and women’s division of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Oct. 11, 2021.

BOSTON — Kenya’s Benson Kipruto won the pandemic-delayed Boston Marathon on Monday when the race returned from a 30-month absence with a smaller, socially distanced feel and moved from the spring for the first time in its 125-year history.

Diana Kipyogei won the women’s race to complete the eighth Kenyan sweep since 2000.

Although organizers put runners through COVID-19 protocols and asked spectators to keep their distance, large crowds lined the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston as an early drizzle cleared and temperatures rose to the low 60s for a beautiful fall day.

They watched Kipruto run away from the lead pack as it turned onto Beacon Street with about three miles to go and break the tape in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 51 seconds.

A winner in Prague and Athens who finished 10th in Boston in 2019, Kipruto waited out an early breakaway by American CJ Albertson, who led by as many as two minutes at the halfway point. Kipruto took the lead at Cleveland Circle and finished 46 seconds ahead of 2016 winner Lemi Berhanu; Albertson, who turned 28 on Monday, was 10th, 1:53 back.

Kipyogei ran ahead for much of the race and finished in 2:24:45, 23 seconds ahead of 2017 winner Edna Kiplagat.

Marcel Hug of Switzerland won the men’s wheelchair race earlier despite making a wrong term in the final mile, finishing the slightly detoured route just seven seconds off his course record in 1:08:11.

Manuela Schär, also from Switzerland, won the women’s wheelchair race in 1:35:21.

Hug, who has raced Boston eight times and has five victories here, cost himself a $50,000 course record bonus when he missed the second-to-last turn, following the lead vehicle instead of turning from Commonwealth Avenue onto Hereford Street.

“The car went straight and I followed the car,” said Hug, who finished second in the Chicago Marathon by 1 second on Sunday. “But it’s my fault. I should go right, but I followed the car.”

With fall foliage replacing the spring daffodils and more masks than mylar blankets, the 125th Boston Marathon at last left Hopkinton for its long-awaited long run to Copley Square.

A rolling start and shrunken field allowed for social distancing on the course, as organizers tried to manage amid a changing COVID-19 pandemic that forced them to cancel the race last year for the first time since the event began in 1897.

“It’s a great feeling to be out on the road,” race director Dave McGillivray said. “Everyone is excited. We’re looking forward to a good day.”

A light rain greeted participants at the Hopkinton Green, where about 30 uniformed members of the Massachusetts National Guard left at 6 a.m. The men’s and women’s wheelchair racers — some of whom completed the 26.2-mile (42.2 km) distance in Chicago a day earlier — left shortly after 8 a.m., followed by the men’s and women’s professional fields.

“We took things for granted before COVID-19. It’s great to get back to the community and it puts things in perspective,” said National Guard Capt. Greg Davis, 39, who was walking with the military group for the fourth time. “This is a historic race, but today is a historic day.”

Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono and Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia did not return to defend their 2019 titles, but 13 past champions and five Tokyo Paralympic gold medal winners were in the professional fields.

Held annually since a group of Bostonians returned from the 1896 Athens Olympics and decided to stage a marathon of their own, the race has occurred during World Wars and even the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. But it was first postponed, then canceled last year, then postponed from the spring in 2021.

It’s the first time the event hasn’t been held in April as part of the Patriots’ Day holiday that commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War. To recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, race organizers honored 1936 and ’39 winner Ellison “Tarzan” Brown and three-time runner-up Patti Catalano Dillon, a member of the Mi’kmaq tribe.

To manage the spread of the coronavirus, runners had to show proof that they’re vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19. Organizers also re-engineered the start so runners in the recreational field of more than 18,000 weren’t waiting around in crowded corrals for their wave to begin; instead, once they get off the bus in Hopkinton they can go.

“I love that we’re back to races across the country and the world,” said Doug Flannery, a 56-year-old Illinois resident who was waiting to start his sixth Boston Marathon. “It gives people hope that things are starting to come back.”

Police were visible all along the course as authorities vowed to remain vigilant eight years after the bombings that killed three spectators and maimed hundreds of others on Boylston Street near the Back Bay finish line.

The race started about an hour earlier than usual, leading to smaller crowds in the first few towns. Wellesley College students had been told not to kiss the runners as they pass the school’s iconic “scream tunnel” near the halfway mark.

https://www.voanews.com/a/kenyan-kipruto-kipyogei-sweep-in-boston-marathon-return-/6266087.html

South Africa eases COVID-19 crowd restrictions for World Cup game

By AFP

Ronwen Williams controls the ball in the Men’s First Round Group A match between Japan and South Africa during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. / Getty Images

A maximum of 2,000 spectators can attend a World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Ethiopia in Johannesburg on Tuesday as the republic eases COVID-19 restrictions introduced last year.

“The government has approved that a limited number of spectators will be allowed back into the stadium,” a national football association statement said.

All sport in South Africa was canceled in March 2020 as the first wave of the coronavirus hit the most industrialized African nation. Play resumed five months later in empty stadiums.

The lack of spectators inflicted severe financial hardship on the three most popular sports, cricket, football and rugby.

South Africa has been the country hardest hit in Africa by the pandemic with 2.91 million official cases and 88,317 deaths by Sunday.

Long-time strugglers, the national team are enjoying a resurgence in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, leading more fancied Ghana by one point halfway through a six-round mini-league.

Kenya’s Chepngetich storms to victory in Chicago Marathon

By Reuters

Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich obliterated the field to win the women’s Chicago Marathon in 2:22:31 on Sunday, as Ethiopia’s Seifu Tura claimed victory in the men’s race.

Chepngetich, who won gold at the 2019 world championships, went out fast, securing a 27-second lead through the first 10 kilometres and never let up, finishing a minute and 49 seconds ahead of second-placed American Emma Bates.

It was the first major title for Tura, who held off 2017 champion Galen Rupp through the final stretch to finish 23 seconds ahead of the American in 2:06:12.

Tura’s compatriot Shifera Tamru got the men’s race off to an aggressive start, leading by a 15-second margin through the first 15 kilometres but he faded to finish fifth.

Two-time winner Desisa, Kipruto headline Boston Marathon

By AFP

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia celebrates after winning the Men’s Marathon during day nine of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 on October 06, 2019, in Doha, Qatar. /Getty Images

After being canceled last year due to COVID-19 and postponed six months this year, the 125th edition of the Boston Marathon is finally scheduled to be contested on Monday.

Kenyans with marathon triumphs earlier this year are among the favorites in the 26.2-mile showdown over the streets of Boston, with vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test at the race medical center needed to compete.

A field of 20,000, trimmed by 40% from the usual size, will compete with organizers saying about 95% of runners have been vaccinated. Masks will be needed in certain race areas while about 200,000 spectators are expected to line the route.

“We look forward mightily to what’s coming Monday,” Boston Athletic Association chief executive officer Tom Grilk said. “It has been more than 900 days since we last ran together here in person.”

The spring classic will be contested a day after the Chicago Marathon and a few weeks ahead of the New York Marathon.

The men’s race is up for grabs with Kenya’s Benson Kipruto, 30, coming off a victory five months ago in Prague in 2:10:16, well off his best of 2:05:13 from Toronto in 2019. Kipruto was also seventh last year in London.

Kenya’s Wilson Chebet, 36, ran his best on 2:05:27 a decade ago to win at Rotterdam and won from 2011-2013 at Amsterdam but in May ran 2:08:38 to finish 13th at Milan.

Ethiopia’s Asefa Mengstu, 33, has the field’s top personal best at 2:04:06 from 2018 at Dubai and placed seventh at last year’s Tokyo Marathon in 2:06:23.

Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, 31, was the 2019 world champion and won the 2013 and 2015 Boston titles as well as the 2018 New York crown, but failed to finish at the Tokyo Olympics in August. His best of 2:04:45 came in a 2013 Dubai victory.

Another Ethiopian, Lemi Berhanu, 27, went 2:04:33 in a 2016 Dubai runner-up effort trying to repeat as champion. He was a runner-up at Toronto in 2019 but failed to finish twice last year.

In the women’s race Kenya’s Angela Tanui, 29, won in January at Bangladesh in 2:29:04 and took the Tuscany title in Italy last April in 2:20:08.

The only runners in the field with faster times are Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat and Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba, who both broke 2:20:00 in 2012.

Kiplagat, 42, is a two-time world champion with wins at New York, London and at Boston in 2017 in 2:21:52. She was also the 2019 Boston runner-up.

Dibaba, 31, won the 2015 world title and Olympic bronze in 2016. She was most recently the 2019 Berlin Marathon runner-up in 2:20:21.

East African sides target first wins of CAF 2022 World Cup Qualifiers

By Jerry Omondi

Uganda’s Joseph Ochaya (L) fights for the ball with Kenya’s Daniel Sakari (R) during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying round Group E football match. /AFP via CFP)

Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda will be looking for their first victories in the CAF 2022 World Cup Qualifiers on Thursday, with each side’s eyes set firmly on bolstering their chances for progression.

The three East African nations are pooled together in Group E alongside Mali, sparking interest among fans who expect derby-esque games.

Mali currently tops Group E with four points from two games; a victory against Rwanda followed by a draw against Uganda.

Kenya is in second place with two points from two draws against Uganda and Rwanda.

Uganda has similar points as Kenya, but is yet to score a goal in the qualifying campaign so far, having managed goalless draws against Kenya and Mali.

Rwanda on the other hand has one point from two games, having lost their opening match against Mali.

Kenya’s game against Mali will be the first under new coach Engin Firat, following the departure of Jacob Mulee last month.

The game will be played in Morocco because Mali does not have stadium approved by FIFA and CAF to host competitive international matches.

Speaking to Goal.com, Firat said his aim was to guide the East Africans to their first ever FIFA World Cup.

“I don’t see any difficulty to handle the team, it is a simple job for me and the main reason why I am here is, of course, to help the team reach Qatar, I want to take the team to the World Cup and I know it is not a difficult task,” he said.

Uganda, on the other hand, goes into the game against Rwanda with a new captain, after coach Milutin Sredojevic appointed midfielder Khalid Aucho to the role last week.

The Cranes are the best placed East African side on FIFA World Rankings, currently standing at 86. Group toppers Mali are the best ranked team from Group E, standing at 61. Kenya is on 102 while Rwanda is on 128.

Kenya confirms bid for 2025 world athletics championships

By AFP

Timothy Cheruiyot (front) of Kenya competes in the Men’s 1500 meters final during the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. /Getty Images

Kenya on Tuesday confirmed its bid to host the 2025 athletics world championships, which if accepted, would bring the event to Africa for the first time.

Nairobi has hosted both the world under-18 and under-20 world championships in the last four years but faces a string of high-profile rivals including Tokyo, which staged the  Olympic Games in July.

“We formally confirmed our bid to host the global championships on Friday, October 1 which was the deadline set by World Athletics,” Athletics Kenya chief Jackson Tuwei told AFP.

“We organized two very successful world junior championships at the Kasarani stadium in 2017 and in August 2021, where a number of world records and personal bests were realized,” he said.

“We learned a lot of lessons in staging both events, and realistically it is our time to bring the biggest event.”

Africa has never hosted the World Athletics (WA) premier showpiece, which was first contested in Helsinki, Finland in 1983.

Kenyan sports minister Amina Mohammed first announced the country’s bid for the 2025 world championships in Doha in September 2019, after WA said the global event would be held on a rotational basis across continents.

Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma wins the men’s London Marathon

By David Ochieng Mbewa

Ethiopian runner Sisay Lemma claimed his first world marathon major by winning the men’s London Marathon in 2:04:01 in London, England, on Sunday.

It was Lemma’s first win in nine attempts at a marathon major and also saw him improve on his seventh and third place finishes at this event in 2016 and 2020 respectively.

Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia celebrates winning the Men’s Elite race during the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon at Tower Bridge on October 03, 2021 in London, England. /Getty Images

The 30-year-old finished ahead of Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba (2:04:28) and compatriot Mosinet Geremew (2:04:41).

Defending champion Shuran Kitata, who last year stunned marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge to win the race, finished in sixth place in 2:07:51.

Kipchoge opted to skip this year’s event to recover from his participation at the Tokyo Olympics where he defended the gold medal he won in Rio in 2016 thereby becoming just the third man in history to defend a men’s marathon title.

Kitata, on the other hand, had already lowered expectations about his performance after he revealed in his pre-race press conference that he had suffered a hamstring injury two weeks before the Olympic marathon. That injury resulted in him dropping out after less than 10km.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

Kenya’s Jepkosgei wins elite women’s race at London Marathon

By Reuters

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 03: Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya celebrates winning the Women’s Elite Race during the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon at Tower Bridge on October 03, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei won a thrilling London Marathon on Sunday in two hours, 17.43 minutes as world record holder and defending champion Brigid Kosgei faded late in the race to finish just outside the podium places.

According to Reuters, Jepkosgei finished 15 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Degitu Azimeraw, while Ashete Bekere came third.

Jepkosgei becomes the seventh fastest female marathoner in history.