Short History of Ethiopian Athletics and EAF

Although the exact roots of Ethiopian Athletics cannot be retraced back accurately, it is widely believed that the sport was widely practiced in schools and military camps before 1897. The sport was limited to these parts of society only because others did not have access to equipment used for competitions or was not organized in a manner that motivated progress. But after signs that the sport was increasing in popularity in many parts of society, a need to assemble these activities under one organizing umbrella quickly arose. It was in 1961 that the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) was shaped and soon became a member of the International Associations of Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Since its inception, much of the federation’s activities were carried with the help of amateurs.
The Ethiopian Athletics Federation has been established since June 4, 1961 (Yekatite 27/53). Through the past 56 years the federation had many great achievements in the athletics sport fields. So, the federation can be nominated as one of the best performing member countries of the International Association of Athletics Federation /IAAF/.
Globally, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation is one of the leading member federations of IAAF especially in long and middle distances. in Continent level, in recent times the Ethiopian athletes are appearing in short distances and field events with medals.
In the past some years, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation was giving more and more attention to the short distances and field events of athletics sports, by recruiting and hiring an international coach from US. In doing so the federation got fruits from short distance and field events in continent level. And the vision of EAF, as a national federation, is to be active participant and successful competent in Africa and the world.
In order to enhance and develop the succeeding athletes of the future, the national federation of athletics of Ethiopia has exceedingly built and plant athletics sport training centers in different regions of the country. This is the greatest achievement in our history of athletics sports ever.
As the whole world knows, Abebe Bikila (Bare foot runner and winner), Mamo Woldie, Miruts Yifter (Gear changer), Haile Gebresilassie, Derartu Tullu, Getie Wami, Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, and many other internationally known athletes are the fruits of Ethiopia given to the world.
Ethiopia, as it is clearly known by the whole member countries of African athletics sports association, is participating in a very active manner and change oriented mentality in EAAR being as a president for about 3 times, council and technical member to CAA to enhance and contribute its share to the rest of Africa. These showed that Ethiopia is giving her highly great potential, experiences and capabilities to others by participating in all activities of the athletics sports.
The first executive committee was headed by Lt. Colonel Birhane Tefera, the man officially recognized as the first president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation. This committee started a formalized program where athletes competed domestically and internationally. One of the first and major competitions in the Federation’s was the Shewa championships, which was organized in 1966 and was a competition among various divisions of the military members, schools students, and different clubs.
Colonel Bekele Yigzaw, and Colonel Zeleke Ergetie were also the next two consecutive presidents of EAF. As seen above, most of the EAF presidents were from the military sectors.
The first ever edition of Ethiopian championships were held in 1971.
In the late 70’s, a new committee, headed by chairman Mr. Aklilu Yimtatu was formed to administer the federation. The major achievements of this era were the staging of the first Abebe Bikila Marathon and the national cross country championships. At this moment Ethiopia also participate in the world cross country championships for the first time in 1984. Mr. Asrat H/Giorgis,
Mr. Tefera Wasihun,
Captain Halefom Miruts,
Mr. Mulugeta H/Mariam were also among the presidents who led EAF.
This executive committee was also responsible for overseeing many developmental activities of the Federation. Construction of the first athletics track, education and hiring of coaches, and major improvement in working procedures were all hallmarks of the early 80’s.
Many years later, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation now has semi-professional organizational structure. It is headed by a nine-member Executive Committee including 2 athletes’ representatives which contain a President, Vice President, and an Honorary Treasurer.
Mrs. Bisrat Gashawtena was the only female president from 2002 – 2012 in the history of EAF. From 2012 – 2016 EAF was led by Mr. Alebachew Nigussie. Starting from 2016 since then EAF shifted to be led by elite and renowned athletes. And Major Athlete Haile G/Silassie became the first athlete to be president of EAF from 2016 – Nov. 2018. And Her E. Colonel Athlete Derartu Tulu represented by H.E Major Athlete Haile G/Selassie since Nov. 2018 till now. A full-time General Secretary takes care of the day-to-day activities of the Federation which now includes four departments- Technical, Public Relations, Development Activities, and Administration and Finance.
In recent years, BPR was recalibrated and inaugurated by EAF and EAF has been structured in five departments including the General Secretary Office /GSO/, and internal auditor. Namely:-
  1. General Secretary office
  2. Technical Department, (in 3 sub-processes.)
  3. Resource Mobilization & Communications Support process,
  4. Purchase & Finance Support process,
  5. Human Resource & Property admin. Support process,
  6. Internal Auditor – under the executive committee
By:- Sileshi Bisrat – EAF, Senior Communications expert