Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From Homeless in Madrid to Olympics in Beijing


The story of twenty one year-old (he guesses his age) Alemayehu Bezabeh Desta is heartbreaking yet elating. Like most of us he left Ethiopia to make something of himself. In his case he wanted to do it by running. It was not that easy.

He had no papers and struggled to survive For a while he slept in Bravo Murillo, in Madrid and ate at mission soup kitchens for the homeless. A priest at the mission helped him apply for political asylum. The priest also contacted an African refugee assistance group called Karibu.

Karibu put him in contact with another Ethiopian who living in Madrid. The other athlete, Fekadu Bekele, introduced him to his club. The club in Madrid is called Bikila, like in Abebe Bikila. The club was amazed at his talent level and he has progressed quickly. In July of this year he was granted Spanish citizenship. He had to run a race to qualify for the Olympics which he easily did. His talent level is such that he is already threatening the Spanish record.

This in short is the story of Alemayehu Bezabeh Desta. From the streets of Madrid to the the Olympics in just months. He says he would like to repay Spain with a medal. He is in the 5,000 Heat with Tariku Bekele.


13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice story. I wonder how may other runners are like him?

Anonymous said...

Good luck to this fellow. He is a miskin runner.

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