Gold for Daniel Abraham in Rio in the paralympic road race!
Daniel Abraham wins gold in the paralympic road race in Rio, after a most bizarre race. Daniel, who came as a refugee to the Netherlands 15 years ago, is the initiator and rider on the Marco Polo Cycling Refugee Team.
Daniel made it to the front group in the last few laps of the paralympic road race in Rio. He attacked on the climb, went solo for gold, but crashed in the decent. He got on his bicycle again and chased his last 2 opponents down, attacked them again, but they managed to catch him in the last few kilometers. Daniel decided to keep going to secure a medal, but had no chance in the final sprint. However the Australian and Ukrainian rider collided in the sprint and crashed just before the finish line, and Daniel could win his gold medal!
It’s been quite a ride for Daniel Abraham…
Arrived in The Netherlands, alone at age 15, after his parents pre-arranged his travel to Europe. They were captured in the fight between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
He had a tough time to get used here, but when his life had structure again, he started chasing his old ambition (being a youth champion in Eritrea) of becoming a pro rider again. After a year of racing and incredibly hard training, he was strong enough to enter the Marco Polo Cycling Team, Continental team and started to perform on pro level incredibly fast. It must have been 2010.
Daniel kept working like a madman; racing at Continental level and then came the idea of getting a Paralympic classification because of his leg. First race: medals at World Cups.
Setback after setback followed. Not being able to travel to important races, because of paperwork; mistakes by commissaires, crashing, getting up again; crashing at the World Championships in winning position in the last corner – missing Rio; then the opportunity to still go to the Paralympics. And now its GOLD!!
Everything HAD to come together once, we kept saying it to eachother. So much talent, so much dedication, the positive energy this guy brings to everybody around him. It had to come together… And now it did – and how… with a bizarre twist of fate that so often turned against him!
And then it even got more dramatic, with the Iranian rider dying in the same race – bringing it all back to reality again… What’s a medal when someone dies in the same race? Thoughts go out to his family and people near to him.
And now Daniel’s status opens a discussion about the rules for becoming a Dutch citizen again, something that has been impossible, despite The Netherlands granted it to him, but made it impossible at the same time, because of stupid rules.
I dont know a Dutch citizen that would wear that orange jersey with more pride…
Many have supported Daniel over the years. His trainers Leo Adegeest and Johan Procee deserve a special mention. Just like all the team staff and riders at the Marco Polo Cycling Refugee Team and the other teams Daniel raced for.
The Refugee team was Daniel’s idea and its been great to see that the team did get support from many people in a crowd funding campaign, but also from De Ronde van Nijmegen, Bike4All, Cyclists for Cultural Exchange, Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen Sport & Bewegen, and commercial brands like Spiuk, Orbea, Power Bar and Vittoria. Not to forget the Spanish crew of the team with Mikel Gurrutxaga, Aratz Imaz, Arkaitz Ruiz de Loizaga, Francois Burtre and others. But also KNWU and NOC*NSF that supported his participation despite Daniel not having a Dutch passport.
Most support came from his family no doubt: Saba Asmelash and the kids. They have missed dad a lot, without the compensation of a nice salary from a big pro team, but supported his ambition, his dream anyway. True love!!
What a ride… its been a pleasure and honour to be part of this!!
Now enjoy this and then onwards to Tokyo, find some new challenges on the way…
And maybe, just maybe, this opens the eyes of some people in Pro cycling, and the door to another dream, a (Dutch?) team that will give Daniel the chance to really show his potential in Pro races…??