ERITREAN Olympic Games standard-bearer Weynay Ghebresilasie has cut his links with Sunderland Harriers after moving to the Midlands.
He has resigned from the Wearsiders after moving to Birmingham and signing-up with one of the UK’s leading clubs, Birchfield Harriers.
He will be eligible to compete for his new club from November 1 after his application for a change of club’s goes through the England Athletics First Claims Committee
The 19-year-old steeplechaser did not return to Eritrea after the London Olympics and set up home in Millfield before being given asylum in the UK. He spent seven months in Sunderland before deciding to head south where there is a large Eritrean community based in Birmingham. Since his departure he has continued to represent Sunderland, but that will come to an end at the end of the month.
Club secretary Michael Hill said: “I hope that in the years to come Weynay will appreciate the help and friendship that was shown in the short time that he was a member of Sunderland Harriers.”
Ghebresilasie left his mark with the city club, but a two week stay in hospital after collapsing while out training and then found to be suffering from a serious blood disorder, severely dented his performances.
However, he did win the Northern junior under-20 cross country championship at Knowsley Safari Park on a snow-covered course in January. But he failed to win the National Championship at Herrington Country Park when the clear favourite. He finished third when the first signs of his debilitating condition emerged.
But he refused to rest when advised to do so after his hospital stay and the rest of his performances had mixed results. On his arrival at Sunderland expectations were high that many of the club records would fall. But due to his health problems that failed to happen.
He could only clock 9.02.73 in winning the 3000m steeplechase at the British Milers’ Club Grand Prix at Stretford compared to his best of 8.28.97 recorded in Belgium while representing Eritrea in May of last year. His 3000m flat performance of 8.28.20 – best time 7.54.45 - was way below Brian Rushworth’s club record of 8.02.6 as was his 5000m of 14.49.91 (13.50.6).
Ghebresilasie did show some signs of improvement when finishing second in last month’s Cardiff 10k (29.31) for third place on Sunderland Harriers’ ranking list behind Rushworth (29.04) and Graham Smith (29.18). But two week’s later he was back in seventh in the Swansea Bay 10k in a time nearly a minute slower (30.24). Then on October 6 he hit his lowest point when he dropped out of the Cardiff half marathon at halfway.
Sunderland Harriers went out of their way to ensure Ghebresilasie was fully supported while competing for the club. It was unfortunate that his expectations were blighted by his health problems. But he is still young enough to deal with this and the club have stated that the association with Weynay was enlightening, if not a little challenging on the track and elsewhere.
H There will no entries on the day for the Gibside Trail Race on Sunday (9.30am). The race is full.