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No racial discrimination in India, say international atheletes

Saturday, 5 January 2013 - 12:09pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: dna

African athletes praise Ahmedabad's ambience.

Hirut Beyene has been participating in marathons across the globe. The professional athlete has competed in the United States, Europe and Asia. She has fond as well as forgettable memories of past marathons, and Ahmedabad falls in the former category. Beyene finds India a safe place for athletes, at least when it comes to racial discrimination.

The 21-year-old faced racial remarks at one of the marathons in Europe.

“We feel safe here; there are no racist elements out here. People are very friendly, which is the reason I am competing again. Food and the atmosphere here are equally wonderful and welcoming. In one line, I feel like home,” said Beyene, while refusing to divulge the details of the untoward incident.

In the last edition of Sabarmati Marathon, the Addis Ababa-based long-distance runner clocked 02:40:42, two minutes more than winner Gadise Fita Megersa.

Joining the chorus was Ethiopian Samuel Yimam, a first-timer. The 29-year-old was bowled over when his friends went gaga over Ahmedabad. “I was very impressed when my friends talked about their experience. I fell in love with it and immediately checked the website, which had a magnetic effect. Photos did the magic. Today I am here,” said Yimam, whose inspiration is none other than Haile Gebrselassie.

Yimam and group are ready for the big day. He observed that the biggest reason for their success in long-distance running has been their ability to work hard. “We understand education is important, but we have chosen this as our profession. We aren't looking back and working hard for it,” he said.

Echoing similar sentiments was Alemu Dabessa, a diploma holder in accountancy. Participating for the second time in Sabarmati Marathon, Alemu, 28, said long-distance runners should be choosy.

“An athlete can’t afford to participate in back-to-back marathons. The body needs rest and there should be a gap of two months between two marathons,” he added.

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