A RUNNER from Cookham is calling on sports companies in the area to donate running kits to impoverished Ethiopian athletes dreaming of Olympic success.

Cookham Running Club Member Sarah Parfitt visited Ethiopia in December where she joined a group of local athletes supported by the charity Ethiopia Reads.

Sarah was invited to join the runners for a 5km trek around Mount Entoto, which is more than 3000m above sea level.

And the journalist was so touched by the warm welcome she received that she decided to raise funds for the poverty-stricken athletes.

She said: "We had only just touched down in Addis Ababa when I received the invitation. It was such a unique opportunity that I just couldn’t say no.

"I nearly needed a push up the mountain at one point when the altitude and malaria tablets had kicked in!

"Even though I don’t speak any Amharic, that didn’t matter because their enthusiasm for running shone through," she said.

"They all want to represent their country one day. The problem is that it’s difficult for them to pay for running gear as they all come from very poor backgrounds and their families are struggling to survive.

"It would be wonderful if we could send over some kit and trainers to give them a helping hand. I have a list of all their sizes!"

Ethiopia Reads helps athletes to pursue their running goals whilst also giving them teaching and librarian skills, to help boost literacy rates across the country.

Ethiopia is ranked 195th in the world in adult literacy, which stands at 42 per cent, with youth literacy at 44.6 per cent.

If you can help, please contact Sarah on 07900 4117 15 or email sarah_parfitt@mail.com