The New York Times today has a good long article on Ethiopian long distance runners. Their celebrated runner Haile Gebrselassie - who has set 17 world records - is the center piece of the article.
Despite having fewer elite runners and paltry resources, Ethiopia has outstripped its East African neighbor Kenya as the greatest distance-running country at major international competitions.
At the world cross-country championships in March, Ethiopia staggered its opponents by winning 14 of 18 available medals. Another medal haul is expected at the Olympics in Athens in August.
[All this despite the fact that Ethiopia is] considered among the four poorest [countries] in the world, where the gross domestic product is $110 per capita, and the backbone of the economy, subsistence farming, is vulnerable to cycles of drought and famine.