Eritrea: African cycling champion – African Business

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Eritrea, a young developing country with great sporting potential, has made tremendous progress in continental and international cycling competitions. It has so far produced world class athletes: Daniel Teklehaymanot who has worn the King of the Mountain jersey in the Tour de France and many others who have won African and World Championships. Eritrea has become the undisputed African cycling champion eight times since 2010. The prowess of the Eritrean national cycling team, which also reflects the national mantra of Eritrea, in continental and international tournaments is increasingly recognized by the sports community.

The Eritrean national cycling team has won the African Championship tournament for a record eight times. This year he won 15 medals, including seven gold, six silver and two bronze at the 18th African Cycling Championships held in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from 22-27 March. Henok Mulubrhan, a 22-year-old professional athlete, won the title of African Champion of the Year 2022 beating South African Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg and Algerian Hamza Amari. Henok is the sixth Eritrean athlete to become African champion. Before him, Daniel Teklehaimanot (2010), Natnaiel Berhane (2011 and 2012), Tesfom Okbamariam (2013 and 2016), Amanuel Gebrezgabhier (2018) and Mekseb Debesay (2019) became champions of the African Continental Cycling Championship. The African Continental Cycling Championship is an annual cycling race that has been running since 2001.

In August 2010, President Issaias Afwerki declared “Africa’s task is done” when meeting the Eritrea national team who became African and Tour Rwanda champions for the year. He pushed athletes to broaden their horizons and compete at international levels and major world tours. Soon, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus realized the vision by becoming the first black Africans to participate in the Tour de France. Recently, in October 2021, Biniam Ghirmay competed against global athletes in the Men’s Under 23 Road Race in Belgium to become the first black African to win a silver medal at the world championship.

While the Eritrean national team was competing in the African championship in Sharm el-Sheikh, Eritrean professional cyclist Biniam Girmay finished first in the prestigious Gent Wevelgem competition in Belgium. He became the first African cyclist to win the world classic tour in Belgium, Europe. On the strength of his victory, Biniam said: “It was a great moment for me, for my continent, for Eritrea and especially for black cycling, to show our potential to the world.” Eritrean athletes have gone through many epic moments in history to become a pride for Eritrea and Africa. Eritrean cyclists are used to climbing on all the podiums of major tournaments. Biniam Girmay will appear on the Giro d’Italia in May to hopefully write a new chapter of success for himself, Eritrea and Africa.

Sports in general and cycling in particular have always been a part of life in Eritrea. The bicycle is a very popular mode of transport and entertainment for young people and adults. Cycling is not only considered a sporting activity, it is rather a tradition. The physical, psychological and emotional well-being of Eritreans is closely linked to cycling. At the same time, the enormous attention of the government plays a vital role for its development. The many Eritrean cyclists who have excelled in major international competitions provide an additional impetus to young people for increased interest in the sport. The pioneer heroes became role models for many young Eritreans who fell in love with cycling.

At the national level, the organization of sport in Eritrea extends from the grassroots (schools, local governments, army units) to the national level. The National Commission for Culture and Sport oversees all sports federations and plays a major role in the development and implementation of national sports policy. Various sports clubs operate in the six administrative regions of Eritrea.

Sport, especially major events such as the Olympics and continental and international championships, plays a vital role in nation building by inspiring national pride. The sporting victory that Eritrea has achieved through cycling is a symbolic expression of the overall state of the country. As sport is intimately linked to national identity, athletics in general and cycling in particular can serve as manifestations of Eritrean national identity. Indeed, it is widely accepted that sports diplomacy is primarily aimed at building peace, friendship, cooperation and mutual understanding between the peoples for which Eritrea has fought.

Eritrea’s success in sports is no accident. The remarkable achievements of cycling are the result of both the organizational skill of sports administration and the tireless individual efforts of athletes. The feat achieved in sports would help Eritrea stand out not only in international sports but also in the international system as a whole.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Ministry of Information, Eritrea.

This press release was issued by APO. Content is not vetted by the African Business editorial team and none of the content has been checked or validated by our editorial teams, proofreaders or fact checkers. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.

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