by Haileegziabher Adhanom, Secretary General, ESJA
Addis Ababa, 2018 – Team Ethiopia enjoyed a successful competition at the third youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, where eight out of nine athletes finished their races on the podium, winning two golds, two silvers and four bronze medals. Ethiopia once again cemented its name as a dominant force in long-distance athletics.
The 17-year-old Berihu Aregawi, who finished second with dominant performance in both the 3000m track and 4KM cross country, was one of the Ethiopian crop, who so impressed in Argentina. Born and raised in a big family in a small town called Atsbi Womberta, in the Tigray Region, Northern Ethiopia, Berihu claimed that he didn’t have a scientific training before he met as a grade-eight student with a local coach called Hilay three years ago. Hilay gave him a first schedule to follow and train accordingly. In the past he had just ran without taking care of his recovery and nutrition.
As a first son of his family Berihu had to deal with three most important tasks of his life before joining his first and current club ‘Sur Construction Athletics Club’, where he was picked up by scouts when finishing third at the local competition in the 10,000m. He had to to school, train and help his father on the farm. It was a huge challenge.
His coaches believed though that he had the energy, endurance, pace and finishing to become a complete athlete and champion. He just needed to develop his tactical racing. With just two years of formal training, it can be said that he has already won plenty so far, including the bronze medal in the 10,000M at the 2018 IAAF World Junior Athletics Championship in Finland and a gold medal at the 3000m in the Third African Youth Games in Algeria the same year.
His goal, however, is very clear: to reach the level of the greats – Haile Gebresilassie and Kenenisa Bekele. His club and national team coach Abreham Hailemariam said: “With the talent he was born with and the hard work with discipline he is putting in, Berihu is going to be the next big thing in athletics.”
Ethiopia has never failed to produce champions through generations and Berihu is without a doubt next in the line. He has already shown plenty so far.