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Ciku Kimeria
Writer, Adventurer, Development Consultant, Travelblogger
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piqer: Ciku Kimeria
Friday, 11 August 2017

Cycling Is Taking Over Eritrea And Putting The Country On The Global Map

Interesting stories have been coming up from one of Africa's little known countries — Eritrea — of a growing cycling culture that is putting Eritrea on the global map. Few will mention Eritrea and cycling in the same breath, but increasingly this is becoming a sport that the isolated nation is gaining fame in. 

In the capital Asmara, the presence of Eritreans on the international cycling circuit is trickling down. “Our riders have put Eritrea’s name out there,” says Yemane Negasi, who rode in the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Games. “People here want to follow the great riders,” he explains, predicting that Eritrea will eventually have “forty or fifty riders racing internationally”.

With an authoritarian regime that has gained the country the informal name of "Africa's North Korea", opportunities to leave the country for nationals, or for foreigners to enter, are few and far between. Cycling is, however, one of the few activities that the government is happy to engage in internationally. 

The government puts up the money for the Tour of Eritrea each year. Cycling success remains an antidote to Eritrea’s tarnished image in the West and is a tool for building low-key connections internationally. Its riders, coaches and administrators go about the business of racing abroad discreetly and successfully. Foreigners travel in and out of the country to work with or report on the country’s national sport without difficulty (although you need a permit to leave the capital).

The unifying nature of sport is captured in this article in addition to the hope that sport gives to youth who have seen some of their countrymen on a global stage. It will be interesting to see the future of the sport and the new talent that will be showcased globally in years to come. 

Cycling Is Taking Over Eritrea And Putting The Country On The Global Map
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