By Yared Gebremeden
Now the time and journey have started counting and moving to take us from the national Olympic Games of Ethiopia to Rio Olympics. The 5th All Ethiopian Games, which could be called the national Olympic Games of Ethiopia, is to be hosted in Hawassa. The game is symbolic to the international Olympic Games as well as All African Games of the continent. All Ethiopian Games are held every two years different states and city administrations hosting the event.
This tournament is an exemplary as well as the basis of course for our active international Olympic participation in the future as many athletes are hoped to be recruited to representing Ethiopia in the times to come. Now is the time for the lighting of the bonfire as it is heading from Bahir Dar city, the city which hosted the 4th All Ethiopian Games to Hawassa. Nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia will gather together for two weeks in the city and share their culture and experiences in a spirit of disciplined sport competition.
Hawassa is the political and economic centre of Southern Nations, Nationalities and People State. And it has finalized preparations to host the Fifth All Ethiopian Games and the state has planned to win most of the medals during the tournament. Then few months later all eyes will be shifting from the fifth All Ethiopian Games to Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
Ethiopia first took part in Olympic Games in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. Since that time Ethiopian brave athletes were continuously registering shinning victories that vividly portray Ethiopia as a land of outstanding athletes. One of the icebreakers for such victories in the Olympic scene is the legend and unforgettable athlete Abebe Bikila, who ran marathon barefooted and won the first Gold Medal in the Rome Olympics in 1960. Since Melbourne Olympics until London 2012 Olympics, Ethiopian athletes have won 21 Gold, seven Silver, 17 Bronze medals in total.
According to the Ethiopian Olympic Committee, Ethiopia did not achieve well as anticipated in the years 2008 and 2012 on Beijing and London Olympics respectively. The Ethiopian Olympic Committee, in collaboration with the National Sport Federations have assessed the failures, successes and challenges faced during those games so as to design a strategic plan for Rio Olympics as well as for future grand events. National Sport Federations were delegated to come up with both their short and long term plans in a bid to strategically assure the fact that their respective teams will become well prepared for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Then the formulated strategic plan have been applied to rectify the major constrains and failures.
Daniel Abebe, who is Senior Communication Expert in the Ethiopian Olympic Committee, in an exclusive interview held with The Herald over the weekend said that there are two major setbacks for the failures of the Beijing and London Olympics. One of these being related to athletes' performances vis-A�-vis sport psychology (confidence), nutrition, physical fitness, injury prevention and rehabilitation as well as lowered winning mentality. Therefore, for the Rio Olympic Games much focus is given to those issues and various courses have been given to coaches, physiotherapists, doctors and federation heads. Coaches were also sent to the United States to take some technical lessons on short & middle distance running as well as World Taekwando sports.
Daniel added that ten athletes in athletics discipline have also managed to get scholarships, said adding "Ethiopian Olympic Committee has provided all the necessary support to the athletes, coaches and sport administrators through intensive training and the necessary supports through its different packages"
The Expert added that the second constraint for failing to achieve better results in the previous two Olympics was related to terms of span of training schedules. The athletes were getting training for only two or three months so far. But now, the committee has made a quantum leap on this regard as the period of training has been expanded to a minimum of nine months.
He further explained on saying that preparations for Rio Olympics are better than the 2012 London Olympics. "We are looking ahead with great excitement to the Rio Olympic Games. We have targeted 12 medals. Initially, we were planning to participate in five Olympic sports.
Unfortunately, we couldn't secure a place in World Taekwondo qualifier competitions last February in Morocco at African Qualification Tournament for Rio 2016 Olympic Games. So we will take part on the games in four Olympic sports. Actually, the qualifying mark for boxing is still on the way. Athletics, cycling, swimming and boxing are the disciplines that we will be participating".
With the nature of sport fans including Ethiopian fans, who are assumed to be by many as result oriented; the Ethiopian national team is eyeing to get 12 medals through exerting utmost winning effort as much as possible, Daniel noted.
According to the information from the committee, some 43 million birr is demanded in total to facilitate the training, accommodation, medication and pocket money requirements. Moreover, some seven million birr additional amount for what is called hospitality house package. This package includes National Branding activities, which will help to enhancing the image of the country in the world arena.
The lion's share of the overall cost will be covered by the Ethiopian government. The committee has already requested the required amount of money from the responsible authorities. And a pleasing green light is already on the way.
The Ethiopian Olympic Committee, with its mission of developing, promoting and protecting the Olympic Movement in the Nation, gives comprehensive and holistic support for Ethiopian Athletes and sport federations: through providing financial support, demand-driven and tailored made training and sport wears provisions.