Athlete Refugee Team mixed relay members at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst (© Steve Christo)
The Athlete Refugee Team (ART) capped their second appearance in the World Cross Country Championships with 13th place in the mixed relay on Saturday (18), while Tachlowini Gabriyesos continued his steady improvement in the marathon in Seville on Sunday (19).
Gabriyesos, the co-flag bearer for the IOC Refugee Team at the Tokyo Olympic Games, clocked a lifetime best of 2:09:00 at the Zurich Marathon Sevilla to finish 19th and qualify for the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23. Gabriyesos settled into his rhythm early, going through 10km in 30:16 and 20km in 1:00:57 before reaching the halfway point in 1:04:14.
His performance clipped 1:09 from his previous career best of 2:10:09 set in the same race last year. The Eritrean-born refugee, who is based in Tel Aviv, first made waves in 2021 when he clocked 2:10:55 at the Hula Lak Park Marathon in Israel to become the first refugee athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Tachlowini Gabriyesos competes at the Tokyo Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
"Me and my coach (Alemayu Faloro) had a mission: the entry standard for the World Championships in Budapest. And we made it!" the 25-year-old said. "And I am happy because my coach is happy. Now I am planning to rest and recover for a few weeks, then start preparation for the 10,000m in April."
Gabriyesos said he suffered a minor injury two weeks before the race but remained focused on the task at hand. After some long track races in the coming months, he'll focus on the marathon for Budapest where he hopes to make his second World Athletics Championships appearance for the Athlete Refugee Team after his debut in 2019 when he competed over 5000m.
One day earlier and on the other side of the planet, the ART quartet of Seyd Taha Ghafari, Josephine Augustino, Fouad Idbafdil and Anjelina Lohalith teamed up to finish 13th in the mixed relay event that launched the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Bathurst 23.
Ghafari, a Kurdish refugee from Iran currently based in the UK and making his world championship debut, kicked off the race, clocking 6:27 for the opening 2km lap. Augustino, another world championships debutante, was next, followed up by Idbafdil, a veteran on the squad whose ART appearances date back to 2019. Lohalith, the team's most experienced performer, anchored the quartet in her first race after a surprise victory at the European Clubs Cross Country championships two weeks earlier. Augustino and Lohalith, both IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship recipients, are based at the Complete Sports Training Centre in Eldoret, Kenya.
"This relay will remain unforgettable for me with a superb collective spirit," said Idbafdil, a refugee from Morocco based in France, who is also an IOC scholarship holder. "I leave this championship having learned a lot and even more motivated for the future."
Ghafari too left feeling energised. "It was great and the best race I have ever done in my career," he said.
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics