FM FANA radio journalist Daniel Gashaw talks about the 16th African Athletics Championships and what it meant to the people of Ethiopia
Q: What was your overall view of the championships?
A: First of all, I want to say that this was the first time that Ethiopia was staging such a big continental event. One definite benefit was that it helped to promote the country and show a very positive image to the rest of the world. We now feel excited about trying to stage even bigger events in the future. I also want to say that we were very happy that the event took place in the year of Ethiopia’s Millennium. Welcoming athletes, coaches, officials and guests from so many countries to Addis Ababa was a special occasion for us.
Q: What was your impression of the way the championships were organized?
A: This was the first time for the federation to stage such an event so any judgment we make has to be seen in this light. That said, I got the impression that it was only at the last minute that they started seriously preparing for the event when they realized how many things needed to get done. However, I have to say that they worked very hard in this period – in fact many people were working day and night to get things ready.
Q: And what about the facilities?
A: Our federation made good use of the funds made available to them by sponsors, and the international federations (IAAF and CAA) to build a good warm-up area and upgrade toilets and showers.
Q: How were the arrangements for the media?
A: The media facilities were better than we have ever seen before, but I heard lots of comments from foreign journalists which made me think that we are still some way behind what is normally expected at these championships. I must also add that we were trying as far as possible to transmit the events live from the stadium and in this respect we and a lot of my colleagues were successful.
Q: Do you think the expectations from these championships were fulfilled?
A: Yes, and definitely more than that. A lot of people were saying that it was one of the best African Championships staged for a very long time. In particular, the crowds were amazing and created a great atmosphere in the stadium. I think it reflected well on the federation and the local organizing committee for all the hard work they put in. Overall, it was a big success.
Q: And what about the results for Ethiopian team?
A: The results in the distance races were very good – but we expected that, especially with the advantage of our athletes being acclimatized to the high altitude – Addis is a lot higher than anywhere else in Africa where these championships could be staged. These races where we won a lot of medals were very special for all of us and we will remember the excitement of those moments for a very long time.