The IAAF is very sad to learn of the death of the renowned distance running coach Dr Woldemeskel Kostre, the recipient of the 2006 IAAF Coaches’ Award, who died in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa at the age of 69 early on Monday (16).
Kostre was considered by many to be the architect of Ethiopia’s phenomenal success at longer distances from the mid-1980s onwards, although he also had a reputation of being a disciplinarian and authoritarian even when his athletes were setting world records.
“We have lost Dr Kostre but he had been ill for a long time. Dr Kostre was a very strict man but he showed me how to behave. He gave discipline a top priority. It very sad he has now left us,” said Ethiopian distance running legend Haile Gebrselassie on Monday.
Runners he coached included Olympic champions Haile Gebreelassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Haile Gebrselassie and Derartu Tulu.
Kostre was a promising middle-distance runner himself before studying sports science in Hungary during the 1960s.
In addition to being a fluent English speaker, on the occasions he returned to Hungary in recent years – such as at the 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships and the 2006 IAAF World Road Running Championships – he surprised many by still being able to converse comfortably in the language and among the first to pay public tribute to Dr Kostre on Monday was the Hungarian Ambassador to Ethiopia.
Dr Kostre was appointed as an assistant coach of the Ethiopian athletics team at the 1972 Olympic Games and for more than 30 years after Munich he was a familiar face among the Ethiopian delegation at major championships.
The IAAF wishes to pass on its sincerest condolences to Dr Kostre’s family as well as the many athletes he guided and inspired.