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Africa's fastest brothers and sisters have to postpone Olympic dream

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020 in Pro Cycling

Mekseb Debesay would have become the first BIKE AID rider at the Olympic Games in 2020 and his sister Mossana would have written African sports history.

Eritrea, one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa and at the same time the most successful in terms of cycling across the continent. We was able to convince ourself of the unique enthusiasm for cycling on site and cycling in Eritrea is also part of our team history. From the very beginning, athletes from Eritrea have been on our team, they stand like no other for the fact that cycling in this case opens biographical perspectives, opportunities to break out of poverty and lack of prospects. In western industrialized nations, competitive sport is a luxury, no one will starve to death if they can no longer practice it, no one is legitimately given the recommendation "Become a professional cyclist and you have the chance to do something with your life".

In some areas of the world, however, the situation is different. Competitive sports can offer one of the very few opportunities to take your life into your own hands and create a livelihood for yourself and the whole family. Whoever recalls the pictures when Daniel Teklehaimanot was the first black African to wear a jersey at the Tour de France can guess what this meant for his country and Africa.

The path that some male athletes have already mastered is usually even more rocky for women. So far, no black African women has been able to gain a foothold in international cycling. The fact that a woman decides to practice cycling is hardly conceivable religiously, culturally and socially in many countries. But in Eritrea there are also a lot of female youths who practice cycling, there are no reservations. 

BIKE AID rider Mekseb Debesay won the road race of the African Championships in Ethiopia in 2019, thus qualifying for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. That would have been a milestone for our team and for him personally. For legitimate reasons, Olympia has now been postponed due to the Corona crisis, but the personal disappointment is understandable.

But that's not all: Mekseb's sister Mossana Debesay 2019 became African champion too. The two are the most successful cycling brothers and sisters in Africa. Mossana is the first female Black African to take the step into international cycling and also the first to take part in Olympic games. It would have made sports history for herself, her country and the whole continent. "It is very painful for me, I have invested so much in this dream, but it makes me even more sad for my sister, she had to go through a lot more, her hopes and anticipation for the Olympics were so high and now everything is uncertain" , says Mekseb Debesay.

Together with our partner Ursapharm we awarded a scholarship for Mossana Debesay. A support program that she can prepare for the Olympics with our team here in Germany and compete in Europe races. We firmly hope that her dream will come true in 2021, and of course our commitment to support will continue to apply.