The commitment is already there from the Ethiopian and Chinese side to form possible partnership in the athletics sector, said La Yifan, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, on Thursday.

La made the remarks during his discussion with senior Ethiopian athletes and representatives of the Great Ethiopian Run (GER), Africa’s largest road race, on potential athletics sector partnership opportunities.

“I have already talked about this possible partnership with Ethiopian leaders, ministers and Chinese companies here in Ethiopia and city officials there in China. The political commitment is already there,” La said.

“There is a huge interest from Chinese marathon lovers and amateur runners to come to Ethiopia and to get training by professional Ethiopian marathon runners,” he said.

The ambassador together with Chinese embassy officials and General Manager of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Ethiopia Branch Zhou Youngsheng visited the high-altitude athletics training center at the outskirt of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Thursday.

Founded by Haile Gebrselassie, President of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation and one of the world’s most successful distance runners, GER is presently Africa’s largest road race with a record number of 42,000 professional and amateur runners from 20 countries taking part in the 16th edition of the competition last year.

Gebrselassie also expressed his keen interest to see many more Chinese runners to practice in Ethiopia and participate at GER competitions.

“We Ethiopians can contribute our experience and Chinese can contribute with their specialty,” he said.

“Most of our athletes are now running in China in over 40 marathons a year. We have the great Ethiopian run here and the Chinese also want to come and run here,” Gebrselassie said.

Since its formation back in 2001, GER has staged over 100 races in different parts of Ethiopia and trained a number of top Ethiopian athletes over the years, including Tirunesh Dibaba, Gebregziabeher Gebremariam, Sileshi Sihine, Tsegaye Kebede and many others. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh