Q&a WITH … SELEMON BAREGA

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Country: Ethiopia

Profession: Athlete – 5000m

Career Highlights

  • 2019 World Championships – Silver (5000m)
  • 5000m World U20 Record – 12:43.02
  • 2018 Diamond League Winner
  • 2018 World Indoor Championships- Silver (3000m)
  • 2017 World U18 Champion (3000m)
  • 2016 World U20 Champion – (5000m)

What made you decide to become a professional athlete?

It was all started by chance!  Growing up I never thought of becoming a professional athlete, and actually enjoyed playing football at school. My teachers saw that I was fast on the field and suggested that I start running. After I began training and getting some good results, I started to believe in myself and that maybe I could become a professional athlete.

What has been a defining moment in your career?

There quite a few defining moments in my career so far. However, the most defining one for me was my first international victory at the 2016 World U20 Championship in Poland in the 5000m. This win was monumental for me and opened many windows of opportunity. It brought me my first management and sponsorship contracts – and simply put – it changed my career for good.

Physical training is important for success, but so is mental training – what role does your mind set play in your performances?

Without self-belief, you can’t compete and win any race! I always make sure to look after my mind-set before every race. After physically training very hard, I tell myself that I am the best and I am going to win every race. Even if I don’t win, I always tell myself that I am going to win the next one! This has helped me a lot throughout my career.

What was the best advice you have received as a professional athlete?

The best advice I ever got was long before I even become a professional runner. It was to keep dreaming to be the best in the world, to work very hard and to stay disciplined. The advice was given by my coach, Aklilie, while I was at the youth project.

What is the strangest (or most interesting) thing that has happened to you in your travels around the world?

It was in France few years back. I was travelling for a race but I had a long transit, and while waiting for my next local flight, I felt tired and decide to take a nap at the airport. But I overslept and when I woke up, I had missed my flight! I was very shocked, but luckily, I managed to get another flight after a couple of hours and still got to compete. This was something I will never forget!  

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