Shettleston’s Eritreans

Scots have always welcomed others to these shores and this has been as true of athletics as it is of the country generally.   Ireland’s John Joe Barry set a world record at Helenvale Track; others like Chris Robison have represented Scotland on the country and in Commonwealth Games.   Many others have just run steadily for years in the country and all have added to the athletics scene and contributed to its heritage.   It is however probably fair to say that none have equalled the immediate impact and continuing effect that the Eritrean runners who joined Shettleston in 2008 have had.   

It was a good day for Scottish Cross-Country running when the World Cross-Country Championships were awarded to Edinburgh for 2008.   Having a world championship on your doorstep is a major event for any sport.   It was however a better day for some of the Eritrean team, for Scottish athletics and for Shettleston Harriers in that order.   

  • For the runners it led to a totally different lifestyle than they had experienced to that point,
  • for Scottish athletics it led to a higher level of competition for the domestic athletes and
  • for Shettleston Harriers it heralded a return to the days of winning trophies and championships that had slipped somewhat in recent years.   The names Hagos, Tewelde. Mengisteab and Woldemichael were to appear with regularity on the results sheets.   

Of the three groups, none worked harder than Shettleston Harriers with their intense community involvement to assist the refugees and it can only be said that they deserved anything that they gained in terms of athletic team success thereafter.

John MacKay has written about the events in and from 2008 for us and you can read about them here . 

He has also listed the championship medal tallies for each of the runners and you can inspect them by clicking on their names below

Tsegai Tewelde   Amanuel Hagos    Tewolde Mengisteab     Tsegezab Woldemichael   Wayhey Ghebresilassie  The Women

If you want to read more after that then there is an excellent article from 2008 by Doug Gillon at 

Granted asylum: the Eritrean athletes ready to run for Scotland | HeraldScotland     and one from 2013 at 

Exclusive: Shettleston Harriers’ Eritrean athletes abandoned by scottishathletics | HeraldScotland

another entertaining one in the Scotsman of December 2008 at 

Fearing for their lives, six Eritrean athletes absconded while in Scotland – and found a new home with a Glasgow running club | The Scotsman

 Tsegai Tewelde went on to run for Britain in the Olympics and you can read about him in the online Independent at

Tsegai Tewelde’s journey from Eritrean landmine victim to UK marathon man (