Q&A with… Mersha Asrat

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Country: Ethiopia

Profession: Coach

Mersha is the personal coach to Kenenisa Bekele, who is a three-time Olympic champion and former world record holder in the 5 000m and 10 000m. Mersha also heads up a training group consisting of young emerging Ethiopian athletes in Addis Ababa.

What has been a defining moment in your career?

To be honest, I didn’t think that I would ever be a coach when I was younger. I was a very good athlete at school level, but then I had a career ending leg injury, and this led me to focus on my education and studies. I joined Addis Ababa University to study my first degree at the Department of Physical Education and Sport. While I was studying, my friends were always asking me a lot of questions related to athletics, and their questions motivated me to learn more so I could have good knowledge and be able to give proper explanations and feedback. I would say this was a defining moment because these moments ultimately led to me becoming a coach.

What was the first thought that went through your mind when you heard the Tokyo Olympics had been postponed?

I expected that the Tokyo Olympics would be postponed, because a lot of races had already been cancelled or postponed. Kenenisa had already qualified for Tokyo by winning the 2019 Berlin Marathon, and the postponement disturbed a lot of our plans because everything was designed with this year’s dates in mind. But I respected and accepted the decision because the priority is everyone’s safety.

Which superpower would you like to have?

If I were to have a superpower I would like to have one that brings blessings and peace to everyone.

When under pressure, what do you say to yourself to help you get through it?

I always tell myself to be tougher than the pressures I face, this helps me feels stronger than the pressure.

What three things you would take with you if you had to be stranded on a desert island for a year?

Shelter, lots of food and water.