Ethiopian Athletes: Latest Victims of Climate Change

Ethiopian Runner Dire Tuni Stares at Ground Photo
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Image via: Loren Kahle on

Ethiopian athletes, those power-houses of running, particularly long-distance events are finding that their homeland is no longer so welcoming to its own athletes. Apparently climate change is to blame, with the rapidly changing temperatures altering so much that even those acclimated to the area can no longer remain outside or train during the hottest parts of the day, reports Reuters. Darn you, Climate Change, darn you!The high-altitude training ground of Asela, a small town in Ethiopia is getting hotter, reports Reuters, and in just a few years may actually be too hot for athletes to train there. Haile Gebrselassie, one of the most famous of Ethiopia's athletes lives near Asela and often trains in the area. Recently, he went for a typical run with fellow star Derartu Tulu (the first African woman to win an Olympic Gold) and found that by 9:30 that morning he was sweating, something previously unheard of in that area. Many of Ethiopia's most successful and famous athletes come from (and still live in) this region, but if climate change has anything to say about that, that won't be the case for long.

Athletics is what tourism is to other countries, or as Gebrselassie said, "soccer is to Brazil." If athletes can no longer train in their home country an entire industry could die or at the least be exported out. The Ethiopian recently spent a lot of money opening up a training facility in the Asela area to train the next generation of athletes only now coaches are starting workouts at 6am and realizing they don't have much time to get a workout in before they have to get out of the sun.

Since 1986, temperatures in the Asela area have risen 1.5 Celsius on average, reports meteorologists. That is a very big increase for such a short amount of time and hard for humans or other species to adapt to. As leaders debate in Copenhagen this week, athletes in Ethiopia will be eagerly awaiting the results and the future of athletics in Ethiopia.