Ethiopian sport superstars are very proud of their accomplishments. Internationally, of course, Ethiopia is best known for it’s middle-distance and long-distance runners. But as you’re about to find out in this article, Ethiopians succeed in many other sports as well!
Basketball: Buay Tuach
Buay is a forward from Ethipia currently playing in Germany for a professional team named Phoenix Hagen. A club with a notable basketball tradition. He is 22 years old and 6’5″ (198cm). He began his career in northeast CC and then made it to Loyola Mary in the NCAA in 2015.
Buay is Ethiopian but grew up in Texas and Nebraska in the United States. When asked about the lack of basketball players from his home country and how proud he was to be a professional basketball player, he said: “I am very proud for my parents and my beautiful African genes because it’s who I am and I thank the man above us for blessing me with so much talent and determination.”
Swimming: Robel Kiros Habte
Born in Adama, Ethiopia, the son of Kiros Habtre Kinfe, who is the president of Ethiopian Swimming Federation. Robel is one of the greatest professional swimmers in Ethiopian history. Though he looked a little out of shape in Rio 2016. He holds the 100 meter butterfly, the 50 and 100 meter freestyle Ethiopian championship records.
He has honorably represented his country in competitions all over the world: Mozambique, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Morocco, Qatar, and Singapore. All the way from youth Olympic games to the official Olympics.
Volleyball: Amina Shikur
For 21 years Amina has fulfilled roles as a volleyball player, team Leader, and a coach. Born in the Silte Region of Ethiopia and growing up in Addis Ababa. Her love for volleyball started back in school and in keble’s; joining her first official club in 1975.
She played in over 20 international games and won various medals personally and for her country. But in a tragic turn of events, in 1985 Amina suffered an accident in training that left her completely blind. Not before she cemented her place in women’s volleyball however.
Cycling: Tsgabu Grmay
Riding for UCI WorldTeam Bahrain-Merida, Tsgabu is a two time national road race champion, two time national time trial champion, and a one time African time trial champion. All that after becoming the absolute first Ethiopian professional cyclist, back in 2012 when he joined MTN-Qhubeka.
He went on to become the first of his countrymen to win an international cycling competition, winning the fifth stage of the Tour de Taiwan. He grew up near the city of Mek’ele and comes from a family that loves sports. Both his brother and father competed in local bike races in Ethiopia. He is only 26, we’re excited to see what his future has in store.
Sprint: Tegegne Bezabeh
Tegegne is long retired and his current age is 76; but his 400 meter record still holds firmly in Ethiopia. His best time was 45.42. He qualified and competed at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympics in the 400 meter event. He won sixth place back in 1968.
Boxing: Seifu Makonnen
Seifu was born in 1953 and he was a two-time Olympic boxer from Ethiopia. Since a young age he had shown an interest in athletics, exhibiting promise as a bodybuilder even by the age of 12. It was Muhammad Ali who inspired him, and so he decided to get into boxing.
He became a success and the Ethiopian Olympic Committee chose him for the team back at the 1972 Munich Olympics, fighting in the light heavyweight division. At the Olympics he lost his only bout to a tie on points, finishing ninth out of 28 fighters in the final. He went on to participate in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal where many favored him for the medal. Unfortunately he was ultimately unable to fight, due to the African boycott of the Olympics.
Tennis: Elias Ymer
Born in Stockholm but of Ethiopian descent, Elias is a proven and yet very promising young tennis star. At only the ripe age of 21 he has a career high ATP singles ranking of 118 which he achieved on May 23, 2016.
He has qualified for many tournament including the French and Australian Opens, as well as to the draw for the 2015 Wimbledon Championships and the 2015 US Open. He won the Stockholm Open on October 23, 2016 and we are certain he will win many more tournaments in the future.
Soccer (Football): Saladin Said
Still relatively young and currently playing for the club he made his debut for, Saint George FC, after spending 4 years at teams such as Wadi Degla, Lierse, Al Ahy SC, and MC Alger. His ability to score goals in critical matches, his soccer skills and his pure energy have made him one of the most respected players in eastern Africa.
In 2011 he was transferred to the Egyptian club Wadi Degla Fc who paid $240,000 US dollars at that time, which made him the highest paid Ethiopian footballer ever then. He debuted for the Ethiopian national team back in 2005 and has been the country’s top scorer in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifications. For Ethiopia he has 27 appearances with 14 goals.
Track & Field: Kenenisa Bekele & Tirunesh Dibaba
Kenenisa is a long distance runner who currently holds the world record and the Olympic record in both the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre competitions. He was born in Bekoji, Derg and has an astonishing 23 Gold medals, 2 Silver medals and 1 Bronze medal.
He is the most successful runner in IAAF World Cross Country Championship history. He is also the first man in history to win both the 5,000 m and the 10,000 m championships at the same time. Easily considered one of the, if not THE, all time greatest distance runners of all time.
Tirunesh competes in the long distance track events and the international road races. She holds the current world record for the outdoor track 5,000 metres competition. She is nicknamed the Baby Faced Destroyer. Why? Because she has won 14 Gold medals, 4 Silver medals, and 3 Bronze medals in her career.
She was born in a village called Bekoji. She began athletics at the age of 14 and has never looked back since, leaving all her competition in the dust. She comes from an athletic family.
As you’ve found out, though Ethiopia is rightfully most famous for it’s legendary long distance runners, it has champions and notable athletes in other sports as well. Ethiopians love sports and will only continue to produce better athletes as the foundations for the different sports get better and better in the country.