What you need to know:
- Inspired by the dexterity of African sportsmen in conquering the world in several sporting events, Abdelhadi Cecradi, 24, embarked on a journey traversing the continent on a bicycle to meet the global stars.
- Cecradi decided to travel around Africa, with the aim of meeting the stars who have raised the continent’s image on the world stage.
Four years after leaving his country in an unprecedented journey to meet Africa's sports stars, a Moroccan man finally arrived in Kenya last week.
Inspired by the dexterity of African sportsmen in conquering the world in several sporting events, Abdelhadi Cecradi, 24, embarked on a journey traversing the continent on a bicycle to meet the global stars.
Cecradi decided to travel around Africa, with the aim of meeting the stars who have raised the continent’s image on the world stage.
The first stop after leaving Morocco on July 15, 2018 was Mauritania, the eleventh largest country in Africa. All he was armed with for his journey round Africa was his bicycle, a sleeping bag, personal effects, hope and determination.
“I have since travelled to 28 countries meeting and congratulating African stars for their effort in representing Africa by showcasing the continent as a hub of raw talent,” Cecradi told Nation Sport in Eldoret on his way to the athletics training bases in Iten, Kaptagat and Kapsabet.
His journey the last 46 months has gobbled up over $60,000 (about Sh7 million) raised through sponsors and well-wishers.
From Mauritania, he would head to Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Congo, Benin, Niger, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and now Kenya, before heading to Ethiopia.
He expects to compete the tour around Africa sports countries in the next six months after he cycles through Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, before flying back to Morocco in about five months’ time. He said he will avoid Libya for security reasons.
“Our heroes and heroines have conquered the world and they need to be celebrated. They should know they are appreciated for their exploits,” he said.
“This is now my mission across West, Central, South and now in East Africa before heading North. In November at Mozambique, I took part in a cycling competition there,” he said.
Cecradi is impressed by the humility, resilience and the hard work of the stars who participate and win in their disciplines.
“There is a rich talent in Africa and it is my plea that they be nurtured to ensure we continue to conquer the world. I have met and interacted with world beaters, including world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, former commonwealth 5,000 metres champion Mercy Cherono, World 5,000 metres silver medalist Margaret Chelimo, former 800 metres world champion Eunice Sum, among others. I feel inspired signing autographs with them,” he added.
He also met 2022 Boston Marathon winner Evans Chebet, 2019 Amsterdam Marathon champion Vincent Kipchumba and a host of athletic coaches and Athletics Kenya officials.
In an autographed T-shirt that Eliud presented to Cecradi, the marathoner hailed the cyclist for his mission saying it was no mean feat.
“For Cecradi, I wish you the very best as you travel around Africa. No human is limited. EKipchoge 1.59.40,” said Kipchoge in an autograph signed on May 15, when the Moroccan met the athlete.
But this remarkable expedition has been a challenging one for Cecradi.
He has been attacked by wild animals, threatened by police, fell sick for sleeping in the cold and even fell victim to extortionists.
“Honestly I miss being at home, but the urge to finish the mission keeps pushing me,” he says.
“We talk with my family often and I always brief them about my mission.”
The life threatening experience happened in Botswana, when he was attacked by elephants, breaking his arm. He spent several months in hospital and his broken arm now has a plate.
“Despite relying on google maps and GPS, people I meet have been kind to me because they direct me and even show me safe areas where I can sleep. I have spent multiple days sleeping in open fields and I believe I got sick because of such,” he recalls.
He said his bicycle has been the only mode of transport despite an additional luggage weighing around 70kgs.
“So far I have used a total of 13 tyres and now on the 14th and 15th ones, with two more spares in the luggage,” he says.
In Kenya, Cecradi has also visited tourist destination sites, including the world famous Maasai Mara Nationa Park, Nairobi National Park and the coastal region. He will be heading to Ethiopia after Kenya.