Sunday, September 30, 2007

Millennial Opportunities: Ethipia recaptures the Olympic Gold for both men and women

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-


September 30, 2007
Marathon Record Is Set in Berlin

BERLIN, Sept. 30 -- Cruising alone for the final seven miles on the Berlin city streets lined with damp, golden leaves Sunday morning, Haile Gebrselassie shattered the world record in the marathon by 29 seconds, securing a mark he has coveted since he was a teenager in Ethiopia.

The rain and wind had stopped by 9 a.m. after a soggy three days, and, along with a flat course and five pacesetters flanking him, the conditions were ideal for Gebrselassie’s record run of 2 hours 4 minutes 26 seconds for the 26.2 miles.

It was 29 seconds faster than Paul Tergat’s previous world record on this same course in 2003.

To the 34-year-old Gebrselassie, this world record, his 23rd in distances ranging from two miles to 5,000 meters to the marathon, this record was the most satisfying.

“Without question,” he said, grinning, “because it is the king of distance.”

Gebrselassie wore his laurel crown with regal familiarity Sunday, saluting the crowd at the finish line, hugging and thanking his pacemakers and high-fiving streams of runners as they finished an hour after he did.

Next came two important phone calls, a half-hour later at the finish line.

The first was from his wife, Alem, who was crying back in Addis Ababa. The second was from his friend, Kenya’s Tergat.

“I said to him, ‘Sorry, Paul, try next year,’” Gebrselassie said with a laugh.

Like his last race – the New York City half-marathon in August – Gebrselassie breezed to his victory with matter-of-fact perfection.

He led from start to finish, helped by formidable marathoners like Rogers Rop who served as one of his pacemakers.

“I promised to run 2:03; that didn’t happen,” he said. “But it’s already a miracle now. I’m so happy just to think about it.”

With Abel Kirui of Kenya finishing second in 2:06:51, Gebrselassie’s only competition came from the clock.

As Gebrselassie repeated as champion (besting his 2:05:56 time of last year), his friend and neighbor, Gete Wami, defended her Berlin title by leading from start to finish and winning in 2:23:17.

Irina Mikitenko of Germany finished far behind her in second, in 2:24:51.

This victory may have been eight minutes off world-record pace, but Wami had a different goal, establishing plenty of intrigue for a women’s duel in New York five weeks from now.

Wami, 32, will attempt to win the New York City Marathon, hoping to capture the $500,000 prize for the first World Marathon Majors series that concludes on Nov. 4.

Wami moved into first place with 65 points, ahead of the two-time defending New York champion, Latvia’s Jelena Prokopcuka, who has 55 points.

A victory in New York would give Wami 25 points; second place is worth 15 and third place is worth 10.

Wami acknowledged that she eased up the pace in the final seven miles. “Yes, I was thinking about New York,” she said. Running with a male pacemaker the entire distance had aided her victory, she said.

“Now I can prepare for New York,” she said.

In a way, both the men’s and women’s races in Berlin seemed almost like glorified time trials, with the runners taking advantage of the pacemakers to reach their goals.

The slower New York City Marathon, with its bridges and hills, will not feature pacemakers for the first time this year as an experiment.

Still, Gebrselassie seems to run to his own metronome. Like Tergat four years ago, Gebrselassie ran the second half of the marathon faster than the first – this time in 61 minutes 57 seconds.

He took off when all five pacemakers dropped off after 18.6 miles, sensing by about the 22-mile mark that the record was his.

He was not so confident Saturday, a blustery and wet day, when he had talked to his wife and told her he doubted he would get the record. But he slept well (his manager had to wake him at 6 a.m.), he put on shoes he usually uses for wet roads, and let the course unfold before him.

“When I start running, I was planning to run one day marathon,” he said, recalling that at age 15, he ran his first marathon in 2:48. “My dream has come true.”

What is left for him? He laughed off the joke of running a 100-kilometer race but turned serious as if seeing his next finish line already. “The Olympics,” he said.

Gebrselassie has two gold medals in the 10,000 meters, from 1996 and 2000. One mark still remains.


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Source: AP

Axel Schmidt / AFP/Getty Images

Haile Gebrselassie celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the Berlin Marathon with the landmark Brandenburg Gate in the background.

1. Ethiopian sets world record in marathon

The 34-year-old finishes in 2:04:26. It's the 6th world record set on Berlin's flat course.

September 30, 2007

BERLIN — Haile Gebrselassie broke the world record Sunday in winning the Berlin Marathon in two hours, four minutes and 26 seconds.

The 34-year-old Ethiopian lowered the mark of 2:04:55 by friend and Kenyan Paul Tergat four years ago by 29 seconds on the German capital's fast, flat course, where six world records have been set.

In the women's race, his countrywoman Gete Wami defended her title in 2:23:17.

Gebrselassie picked up the pace over the last six miles, running alone without pace setters, after he trailed the record by a half dozen seconds at the halfway point.

His furious pace carried him through the giant pillars of the Brandenburg Gate in downtown Berlin, and he broke into a smile over the final yards as it became clear he would accomplish the feat in his second try in the city.

His arms flew up in triumph as he broke the tape.

"Don't ask me how I am," Gebrselassie said. "It's very special, spectacular."

This was the 25th world record for the Ethiopian, a two-time Olympic champion in the 10,000 meters. Kenyans Abel Kirui in 2:06:51 and Salim Kipsang in 2:07:29 finished second and third Sunday.

Last year, Gebrselassie faded over the final miles in a failed bid at the record, settling for the fastest marathon of the year at 2:05:56.

This time, vowing again to break Tergat's mark, he upped his training mileage before the event. His record was also helped by a cool, calm day.

"Today, there was a little wind, but otherwise perfect," he said.

The win helped him ease a painful memory, when he dropped out of the star-studded London Marathon in the spring. Later, he was diagnosed with allergies.

"That was very sad. I could not sleep at all the night after that, and this experience still follows me until today," Gebrselassie said.

Wami picked up points in her bid to claim the $500,000 offered for winning the first World Marathon Majors Series. The former Olympic 10,000 champion is locked in a battle for the prize money with Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia.

Germany's Irina Mikitenko was second in 2:24:52 and Kenyan Helena Kirop finished third in 2:26:27.

Gebrselassie picked up $71,000 for the win and the same amount in a world record bonus. He also reportedly earned $357,000 in appearance money.

The Berlin Marathon is the fourth-largest marathon in the world, drawing 40,000 to the race and an additional 8,000 entries in special events.

Source: Office of Congressman Donald Payne, Chair, House Committee on Africa and Global Health

2. House Committee Approves Payne Ethiopian Democracy Bill- However, Ethiopia does not need lessons from Payne on Democracy as it has been governing itself for over 5,ooo years. Payne got his feedom just under 40 years. Who is to teach democracy who? is the question many in the international diplomatic circel asking.

Ethiopia teaches Payne about Democracy by declining his offer of slavery in disguise. We know better, let Payne get freedom for his constituency in New Jersy first whose young men are either gangs or in jail.

Ethiopia plans to pass a bill to get the freedom of African Americans in New Jersey and that will be the day of greatg lesson for Donald Payne and he will see who is teaching who about democracy, good governance and equal opportunity?


Source: UN News Centre

3. UN expert voices deep concern at extreme violence in Somalia
28 September 2007

Extreme violence in Somalia, attacks and threats against the media and a lack of humanitarian access in the strife-torn country, where more than 700,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes, remain matters of deep concern, according to an independent United Nations expert.

Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia Ghanim Alnajjar, who visited the Horn of Africa country last week, said his meetings UN staff, representatives of the international community, Somali civil society, clan and tribal leaders, and senior officials of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) underscored the continued deterioration in the human rights situation.

Civilians faced severe violations by all parties to the conflict including of the right to life, disappearance, torture, recruitment as child combatants and sexual and gender-based violence, as well as continued obstacles to the right to food, health and education.

Mr. Alnajjar discussed the humanitarian needs of the civilian population, including the more than 700,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), and threats and attacks on aid workers, underlining once again the importance of preserving “humanitarian space.”

Journalists and human rights defenders continue to live in an increasing climate of fear and intimidation, he noted. Since January, seven journalists have been killed and dozens more threatened into silence for their work. Several have fled Mogadishu, the capital, he said.

Citing the lack of separation of powers in the TFI, he condemned the arrest of the President of the Supreme Court, Yusuf Ali Harun, and another judge as well as the dismissals of Attorney-General Abdullahi Dahir and his deputy, saying these steps disregarded rules and procedures and clearly violated the independence of the judiciary.

Mr. Alnajjar also voiced concern at the potential negative effects of a conflict between neighbouring countries and highlighted new calls for the Security Council to establish a UN peacekeeping operation to further stabilize the country and allow for a phased withdrawal of Ethiopian forces.

He was briefed about the intense violence and allegations of serious violations of human rights in Mogadishu over the past nine months since the TFI, backed by Ethiopian troops, expelled Islamist groups from the capital.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR reported today that it had begun distributing much-needed relief supplies 24,000 people in Afgooye, 30 kilometres west of Mogadishu, many of whom had fled intensified violence over the last two weeks. Plastic sheeting, blankets and jerry cans are being distributed over a three-day period.

Nearly 65,000 people have fled the volatile capital since the beginning of June, 11,000 of them in September. Although the TFI said in May insurgents had been ousted after three months of fighting which uprooted almost 400,000 civilians, ongoing violence sparked a second wave in June. Only 125,000 people have returned to Mogadishu.

More than 40,000 residents of Mogadishu have been displaced in Afgooye since February, and the 22 IDP settlements are feeling the pressure of the new arrivals.

“Our staff report that families are still fleeing Mogadishu every day due to an increase in violence,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva today, reporting a new exodus after the TFI ordered residents of three northern districts to vacate their homes, claiming that they were backing insurgents after several soldiers and their commander were killed in a fight with insurgents there.

Mogadishu is now divided into two parts, she said. The northern part is becoming deserted as residents flee clashes between the Ethiopian-backed TFI forces and insurgents, whereas the southern part is calm.

The streets of northern Mogadishu are so empty during the day that only a handful of people can be seen, a UNHCR staff member reported. The Bakara market, once one of the biggest in East Africa, is barely functioning as it is regularly closed to vehicles because of insecurity such as fighting, assassinations and killings linked to robbery.

“People are scared to walk close to the market with only the most desperate still going, risking their lives to sell a few vegetables as they have no other way of keeping their children from starving,” the staffer said.

Somalia has been riven by factional fighting and has had no functioning central government since Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991.

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