Profession: Athlete – 5000m
- 2019 World Champion (5000 m)
- 2017 World Champion (5000 m)
- 2016 Olympian
- 2015 World Cross Country Championships – Gold (Team)
- 2015 World Cross Country Championships – Bronze (Senior race)
- 2013 World Cross Country Championships – Bronze (Junior race)
- 2013 World Cross Country Championships – Gold (Team)
- 2012 World Junior Championships -Gold (5000m)
For you, what is the toughest part of a 5000m race?
I would say that the last four laps are always the toughest ones. It requires a massive endurance to win at this critical stage of the race. You have to accelerate and increase your speed at the stage where your body starts feeling tired.
After becoming Junior World Champion in 2012, what adjustments did you need to make as you transitioned to racing at the senior level?
It didn’t take too much to adjust for me, for two reasons: the first one is, the period to stay on as a junior level is normally quite short, especially when you start winning early, so it’s normal that you become ready for the next challenge. The second is, I had the chance to train with the senior athletes most of the time and that gave me the chance to adapt my training for the senior level races.
What kept you going in the previous seasons where you struggled with injuries?
My “Never give up!” attitude is the first thing. Of course, the support I have been receiving from my teammates, fellow athletes, my doctors, family… and most importantly my wild card for the 2019 World Championships in Doha pushed me to continue my training.
There is an incredible amount of work that needs to be put into race at an elite level, can you tell us what was one of your toughest training sessions?
Training is always the hardest part of any athletes’ career. You have to give twice or three times more than your actual race. If you don’t sweat hard in your trainings, then, there will not be any success. So, I will say that all my training sessions are tough!
You ran an incredible 27.29s last 200m in Doha to take gold and defend your World Championship title – can you tell us what went through your mind in those last few meters of the race?
I remember, we had our tactics on our mind. The idea was, since there are many athletes that come from the 1500 filed, to kick earlier. And we agreed to do it on turns. But unfortunately after I led the first two laps, I couldn’t keep up with their pace due to my injury.
However, when I saw that Jakob Ingebrigtsen was leading the final lap and my friends were struggling, I decided to give everything, even though I was in pain. My thought was we have to win this race at any cost, and we did!
How would you define success?
It is simply reaching to your goals, but realizing there are always more goals because, you will have different life goals that you set and you might achieve some and you might not achieve others.
For example I had a goal to be a world champion, and since I achieved it, I can say I am successful on this regard, but, I also have a goal to become an Olympic champion In this case I am not yet successful. That’s how I understand success.