Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia celebrates as he wins gold in the Men’s 800 Metres - WIC Istanbul (Getty Images)
Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia celebrates as he wins gold in the Men’s 800 Metres - WIC Istanbul (Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Ethiopia Ethiopia
  • DATE OF BIRTH 10 JAN 1994

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Updated 7 March 2014

 

MOHAMMED Aman Geleto, Ethiopia (800m)

Born: 10 January 1994, Assela, Arsi, Oromia Region, Ethiopia.

Lives: Addis Ababa.

Height: 1:74cm   Weight: 58kg

Club: Muger

Manager: Hussein Makke (Elite Sports Management International)

Coach: Negusse Gechamo

 

In 1980 Miruts Yifta blazed the trial on the track inside the Luzhniki Stadium at the Moscow Olympics. 33 years later at the same – albeit modernised – venue in the Russian capital, Mohamed Aman wrote a new chapter in the rich history of Ethiopian running. The year before, the teenage prodigy had become the first Ethiopian to win a middle distance gold medal at a global athletics championships. A year and a half later, Aman showed he had learned the lessons of his failed attempt to beat David Rudisha to the Olympic title, with a stunningly mature march to becoming his nation's first World Outdoor champion at 800m.

 

Aman is latest Ethiopian to become a World champion, but from the East African country that has provided athletics with so many distance world-class runners and champions through the years, this teenager’s rise to stardom is taking Ethiopia into the much shorter distance of metric half-miling.

 

Mohammed Aman Geleto comes from Assela, 166 kilometres south-east of the capital Addis Ababa, in the same Arsi part of the Oromia region where Ethiopian legends Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebresalassie were also born.

 

The fourth of eight children, he has two brothers and five sisters. His father is a government civil servant, while his mother is a housewife. The young Mohammed was educated at the Assela Union School, which was not far from his home.

 

With no athlete background in his family, one day when he was 12 years old, a friend told him that he had enrolled for the Ethiopian Athletics Federation’s Youth Development Project. So Mohammed decided to go with him to the Centre in Assela. However, he was disappointed to be told that all the places had been taken. But the coach then decided to allow him to train anyway and register later.

 

However, it wasn’t at 800m, or even longer distances that Mohammed started his running career, but instead he became a sprinter: 100m and 200m! (N.B: Because the Youth Development Project is for children under 15, 1500m is the maximum distance allowed) Two years then passed before he moved up to 400m and 800m training.

 

Also enjoying his running at school, one day Mohammad’s father looked at his son’s feet and observed that “You have runner’s feet. One day you will run like Haile and Tirunesh.”

 

However, teenage Mohammed was also showing a passion and talent for football: a quick-footed striker with an eye for the goal in matches played for his local team.

But fearful of his son getting injured, Mohammed’s father convinced him to concentrate solely on athletics.

 

After winning his first 400m and 800m races at an Open Meeting, Mohammed was invited to join the local Muger Athletics Club. Under the tutelage of Muger club coach Tolosa Kotu, Mohammed’s concentration turned back to athletics as his running quickly developed and soon he and the coach realised he could have a real future at the 800m.

 

Fifth at the National Junior Championships, 2008 also saw him run for the first time outside of Ethiopia at the CAA senior meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, where at the age of 14, he ran a highly promising 1:50.29 - good enough for sixth.

 

Mohammed’s progression continued into 2009, where in Rio de Janeiro, four months after his 15th birthday, he reduced his 800m PB to an incredible 1:46.34.

 

Competing above his age group, the same year he claimed his first championship gold medal taking the African Junior 800m title in 1:48.28. (Incidentally, the women’s title in Mauritius went to a certain Caster Semenya, who soon after added the senior World title in Berlin).

 

In 2010, Mohammed stepped up to the 1000m to first take gold at the East Africa Trials for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, in Khartoum, clocking a world-leading 2:20.59. He then repeated his win at the YOG in Singapore, accelerating with 250m to go to take a clear win in 2:19.54 over Qatari Hamza Driouch (2:21.25).

 

He returned to his specialist distance in 2011, claiming a second African Junior title in Gaborone in May, then improving his 800m PB to 1:45.74 – a national junior record – set defeating an international senior field at Montreuil-sous-Bois, France in June, just three days after running a 3:57.17 mile at the Pre Classic in Eugene.

 

However, he failed to win the IAAF World Youth title in Lille, France; despite setting Ethiopia’s senior national record with 1:44.68, Mohammed was beaten in the final in a fantastic sprint down the home straight by 16-year-old Leonard Kirwa Kosencha (1:44.08) – the Kenyan also smashing the World Youth best in the process.

 

Mohammed’s burgeoning career was about to hit a new high as, at only 17, he qualified for the World Championships in South Korea, where he reached the final – the first Ethiopian man or woman to reach the final of a global championship at senior level at 800m. He clocked 1:45.93 after having won his semi-final in impressive fashion in 1:44.57, defeating more experienced and titled rivals including Poland’s European Champion Marcin Lewandowski, double World Indoor champion Abubaker Kaki and 2007 World champion Alfred Kirwa Yego.

 

Mohammed might have finished eighth and last in that Daegu final, but it certainly didn’t affect his confidence, as a couple of weeks later, he obliterated the World Youth best with 1:43.37 – also another Ethiopian senior national record – in Rieti, Italy, in a race that saw the newly-crowned World champion David Rudisha go close to improving his own World record.

 

Kenyan Rudisha had been the dominant man over two laps ever since his failure to reach the World Championship final in 2009. However, on a rainy September night in Milan, 17-year-old Mohammed Aman stunned the fastest 800m runner in history and the athletics world, by subjecting his self-declared ‘hero’ to a first defeat in 26 finals (34 races including preliminary rounds). Mohammed clocked 1:43.50 with Rudisha just 0.07 behind in second.

 

Even before his win over Rudisha, Aman was being touted as the future of 800m running, and the start of 2012 saw those predictions vindicated, as in Istanbul Mohammed, aged just 18 years and 60 days, became the youngest ever gold medallist at a World Indoor Championships, eclipsing the previous youngest – Abubaker Kaki (18 and 262 days when he took this title in 2008).

 

With Aman having started off the Olympic year so successfully, he was full of confidence when he travelled back to Daegu, South Korea in May for the IAAF World Challenge meeting. He went back into hard training for the outdoor season. His confidence was well placed as he claimed victory in 1:43.51. 11 days later, he was winning another round on the World Challenge circuit – this time at Rabat in Morocco in 1:43.58. Consistent and fast, while all the while continuing an intensive training regime. 

  

His next long-distance flight took him to the western coast of the United States of America and the Diamond League meeting at Eugene. There at the Prefontaine Classic, he had a real neck and neck battle against Abubaker Kaki, losing out in a home straight drive by just 3/100ths to Kaki’s winning time of 1:43.71. Aman afterwards cited a tactical mistake in the race that saw him caught on the bend before the sprint.

 

Aman got back to winning ways in Lille in his final race before heading to the Olympic Games in London, choosing to call off his planned race in Paris in order to concentrate on his preparations.

 

Once at the Games, Aman sailed through the heats and semi-finals – beating fellow teenager Timothy Kitum of Kenya in the latter in 1:44.34. And then he braced himself for what would turn out to be stand-out race – performance-wise – of the whole Olympic Games in London.

 

Aman had planned an attack on the big favourite David Rudisha. What he didn’t know was that the tall, elegant Kenyan was planning an audacious attack of his own – on his own World record. Only his 17 year-old Kenyan team-mate Kitum knew this. So as the gun went inside a packed Olympic Stadium, Rudisha burst away from the gun, pursued by Aman as well as Kaki and Botswana’s Nijel Amos. Only Kitum resisted the urge to follow the great man, who went through the bell in 49.28 seconds, before actually moving up another gear at 300m. Aman gamely tried to stay with him, but the searing pace was just too hot and he tired in the final 200m to drift back out of the medals to finish sixth, while Rudisha became the first man to break 1:41 in the greatest 800m of all time – sending the tens-of-thousands of astounded witnesses inside the Olympic Stadium wild with the sort of excitement they’d generally reserved for home British winners.

 

Indeed, Botswana teenager Nijel Amos smash the World junior record with 1:41.73 (the same time Seb Coe clocked when the future 2012 Olympic Games boss set the then World record in 1981). Rudisha's teammate Kitum set a Kenyan junior record and world age-17 best of 1:42.53 in taking bronze.  Aman, himself, may have finished down in sixth, but his time still broke his own Ethiopian record with 1:43.20.  With all eight finalists fining in under 1:44, Aman had been involved in the greatest 800m race ever for depth of performance. Only seventh-placed Abubaker Kaki failed to set a PB.

 

“For me, it was a special race. David Rudisha was a great runner in this race. I wasn’t disappointed. If I had got a medal, it would have been a big thing, but I am still happy… because it was the first time an Ethiopian had reached the Olympic final at 800m. It was a very different type of race. I didn’t expect that all (sic!) the athletes would break their best ever times.”

 

Aman didn’t comment on his tactics suffice to say: “During the final bend, I clashed with Kaki and it affected me. The race showed me my weakness … After the Olympics I changed my training style. I used to follow other athletes, but now I go out in front and finish in front.”

 

Aman was able to take some more satisfaction when he beat the newly-crowned Olympic champion at the next Diamond League meeting in Zurich. Rudisha was no slouch with a 1:42.81 finish, but Aman, who was the last man to beat the great Kenyan in Milan the previous year, came through again to carve another three-quarters of a second off of his Ethiopian record – going under 1:43 for the first time in his brief career so far with 1:42.53.

 

As such, Aman may have missed out on Olympic medal in London, but he did win the Diamond League Race for 8oo over the year.

 

In 2013, Aman has again looked strong. Running an Ethiopian indoor record in Stockholm, he has won all but one of his 10 international races, including four in the Diamond League and clocked the latest of his dozen sub-1:43 times in the last two years, at the Lausanne Diamond League race in early July - his final race before the World Championships.

 

Aman’s first race of 2013 had seen him set a World Junior best indoors at 600m in Moscow, followed by a national indoor record (1:45.05) at 800m in Stockholm. Six month later, back in the Russian capital, he was to claim a more glorious victory at 800m.

 

His outdoor campaign leading up the year’s major event was impressive. After a second place in the opening Diamond League meeting in Doha, he took six straight wins (Eugene, Rome, Rabat, Ostrava, Birmingham and Lausanne

 

After such an impressive dominance, and in the absence (due to injury) of all the men who filled the Olympic podium in London, many thought that Aman – still only 19 years of age - could come of age in Moscow, provided he got his tactics right. “I am sad Rudisha will not be running in Moscow, reflected Aman in late July, “but for my part, I am not only training in order to beat David Rudisha.”

 

But even without the great Kenyan, it wasn't a smooth path to victory. In the semi-final, he got caught in a poor place on the kerb on the final bend and was fortunate to find a path through the traffic. The final was also a real test., but as the IAAF reported: the final “proved to be a thriller, despite the absence of all three 2012 Olympic Games medallists.” And in it, Aman proved that he now had the race craft to go with his raw speed.

 

The last 100m still came down to a showdown with American Nicky Symmonds. But Aman's timing was perfect and his final spurt powerful as he won his and his nation's first middle-distance World Championships gold (1:43.37). “I learned something from my mistake in the second round,” observed Aman after the race in Moscow. “I believed myself to be the winner in this championships. I applied in the race what my coach had told me. I finally did it. It was my dream and my ambition. I am proud of myself and of my country. I think the middle-distance door is now open to other young Ethiopian athletes. Moscow was my remarkable place in my career.”

 

After Moscow, Aman was given a hero's welcome in Addis Ababa with the rest of the Ethiopian returning team at a rally inside the National Stadium. But there was no doubt who the fans had come to see. Two weeks later, he returned to Europe for the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Berlin, where he continued his winning streak.

 

After Berlin, there was just the little matter of winning his share of the Diamond League Jackpot. In truth he was already assured of the prize, but rules dictate that he still had to participate in the final meeting at Brussels. However, Aman was feeling ill after Berlin. So what happened in the Belgian capital was all the more remarkable.

 

Moscow bronze medallist, Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti ripped up the first lap on the heels of the pace setter in under 49 seconds and was still leading after 600m – reached in a 1:15.27 split – one of the fastest ever recorded in an 800m race. That was when Aman took over again. He sprinted down the home straight to cross the line first in 1:42.37 - again smashing his own Ethiopian national record – this time by 0.16. The time was also almost a full second faster than the previous fastest time in the world in 2013. After another remarkable win he reflected on a banner year (in which the second place in Doha was his only defeat): “After 600m I knew the time was very fast. At that moment I had some pain, but I was struggling to focus on my race. Finally, I did my plan well, I was good all year, I was successful, I am satisfied. I would like to say thank my coach Neguse.”

 

Mohammed Aman started 2014 in similar fashion to the year before – posting only victories, and each result a world leading mark. Again he started with a 600m in Moscow, won in 1:15.31, before going on to for 800m in Stockholm (1:45.08) and Birmingham  (1:44.52) knocking half a second off his previous best indoor time.

 

“It was an amazing race. I broke my national record. I think it helps me for Sopot. I feel good. I want to defend my indoor tittle in Sopot.” It didn't just break the Ethiopian record, it also smashed the African Indoor Record for the distance and put him number three on the all-time list behind only Wilson Kipketer and Yuriy Borzakovskiy.

 

After becoming Ethiopia's first ever middle distance World Indoor Champion in 2012,  Mohammed Aman proclaimed a wish; “My big ambition is to make Ethiopia known (for 800m)” Two years later, one could say that he is certainly doing that – and breaking the stereo-type of what it is to be a World class runner from Ethiopia.


Off the track, Mohammed Aman cuts a relaxed, confident and surprisingly mature figure for one so young. He already speaks some English. He likes sleeping, watching movies, and going to the Mosque. On top of eating injera (traditional aerated pancake that goes with most Ethiopian meals), Mohammed is crazy about milk.


Personal Bests

800m: Outdoors: 1:42.53 NR, NJR (2012), 1:42.37 (2013)

Indoors: 1:45.05 (2013) NJR,1:44.52 (2014)

1500m: 3.43.52 (2011)


Yearly Progression

800m: 2008- 1:50.29; 2009- 1:46.34; 2010- 1:48.5hA; 2011- 1:43.37 NR NJR WYB; 2012- 1:42.53; 2013- 1:43.33; 2013- 1:42.37; 2014: 1:44.52i

 

Career Highlights

2009

1st

African Junior Championships, Bambous

 

1:48.82

later DQ for being underage

2010

1st

Eastern African Youth Olympics Trials, Khartoum(1000m)

 

2:20.59

2010

1st

Youth Olympic Games, Singapore

(1000m)

2:19.54

2009

1st

African Junior Championships, Gaborone

 

1:46.62

2011

2nd

IAAF World Youth Championships, Lille

 

1:44.68

2011

8th

IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Daegu

 

1:45.93

2012

1st

IAAF World Indoor Championships, Istanbul

 

1:48.36

2012

6th

Olympic Games, London

 

1:43.20

2013

1st 

IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Moscow

 

1:43.31

 

*A note on the name of athletes of Ethiopian origin: Ethiopians are customarily referred to by their first name or first and second name together, the second name being the father's first name. (The grandfather’s first name is sometimes added as a third name, and is optional in much the same way that a Western middle name is frequently omitted. However, it is mandatory on all new Ethiopian passports.)


Prepared by Haimanot Turuneh for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2012-2014

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
800 Metres 1:42.37 Bruxelles 06 SEP 2013
1000 Metres 2:16.33 Ostrava 17 JUN 2014
1500 Metres 3:43.52 Brazzaville 12 JUN 2011
One Mile 3:57.14 Eugene, OR 04 JUN 2011
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
600 Metres 1:15.60 Moskva 03 FEB 2013
800 Metres 1:44.52 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 15 FEB 2014
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
800 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 1:42.83 Monaco 18 JUL
2013 1:42.37 Bruxelles 06 SEP
2012 1:42.53 Zürich (Letzigrund) 30 AUG
2011 1:43.37 Rieti 10 SEP
2010 1:48.50 Addis Ababa 01 MAY
2009 1:46.34 Rio de Janeiro 17 MAY
2008 1:50.29 Abuja 23 JUN
1000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 2:16.33 Ostrava 17 JUN
2010 2:19.54 Singapore 22 AUG
1500 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2011 3:43.52 Brazzaville 12 JUN
One Mile Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2011 3:57.14 Eugene, OR 04 JUN
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
600 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2013 1:15.60 Moskva 03 FEB
800 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 1:44.52 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 15 FEB
2013 1:45.05 Stockholm 21 FEB
2012 1:45.40 Birmingham, GBR 18 FEB
2011 1:48.12 Liévin 08 FEB
Honours - 800 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014 1 1:46.40 Sopot (Ergo Arena) 09 MAR 2014
14th IAAF World Championships 1 1:43.31 Moskva (Luzhniki) 13 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 6 1:43.20 London (OP) 09 AUG 2012
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2012 1 1:48.36 Istanbul (Ataköy Arena) 11 MAR 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 8 1:45.93 Daegu 30 AUG 2011
7th IAAF World Youth Championships 2 1:44.68 Lille 09 JUL 2011
Honours - 1000 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
1st Youth Olympic Games (athletics) 1r2 2:19.54 Singapore 22 AUG 2010

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Updated 7 March 2014

 

MOHAMMED Aman Geleto, Ethiopia (800m)

Born: 10 January 1994, Assela, Arsi, Oromia Region, Ethiopia.

Lives: Addis Ababa.

Height: 1:74cm   Weight: 58kg

Club: Muger

Manager: Hussein Makke (Elite Sports Management International)

Coach: Negusse Gechamo

 

In 1980 Miruts Yifta blazed the trial on the track inside the Luzhniki Stadium at the Moscow Olympics. 33 years later at the same – albeit modernised – venue in the Russian capital, Mohamed Aman wrote a new chapter in the rich history of Ethiopian running. The year before, the teenage prodigy had become the first Ethiopian to win a middle distance gold medal at a global athletics championships. A year and a half later, Aman showed he had learned the lessons of his failed attempt to beat David Rudisha to the Olympic title, with a stunningly mature march to becoming his nation's first World Outdoor champion at 800m.

 

Aman is latest Ethiopian to become a World champion, but from the East African country that has provided athletics with so many distance world-class runners and champions through the years, this teenager’s rise to stardom is taking Ethiopia into the much shorter distance of metric half-miling.

 

Mohammed Aman Geleto comes from Assela, 166 kilometres south-east of the capital Addis Ababa, in the same Arsi part of the Oromia region where Ethiopian legends Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebresalassie were also born.

 

The fourth of eight children, he has two brothers and five sisters. His father is a government civil servant, while his mother is a housewife. The young Mohammed was educated at the Assela Union School, which was not far from his home.

 

With no athlete background in his family, one day when he was 12 years old, a friend told him that he had enrolled for the Ethiopian Athletics Federation’s Youth Development Project. So Mohammed decided to go with him to the Centre in Assela. However, he was disappointed to be told that all the places had been taken. But the coach then decided to allow him to train anyway and register later.

 

However, it wasn’t at 800m, or even longer distances that Mohammed started his running career, but instead he became a sprinter: 100m and 200m! (N.B: Because the Youth Development Project is for children under 15, 1500m is the maximum distance allowed) Two years then passed before he moved up to 400m and 800m training.

 

Also enjoying his running at school, one day Mohammad’s father looked at his son’s feet and observed that “You have runner’s feet. One day you will run like Haile and Tirunesh.”

 

However, teenage Mohammed was also showing a passion and talent for football: a quick-footed striker with an eye for the goal in matches played for his local team.

But fearful of his son getting injured, Mohammed’s father convinced him to concentrate solely on athletics.

 

After winning his first 400m and 800m races at an Open Meeting, Mohammed was invited to join the local Muger Athletics Club. Under the tutelage of Muger club coach Tolosa Kotu, Mohammed’s concentration turned back to athletics as his running quickly developed and soon he and the coach realised he could have a real future at the 800m.

 

Fifth at the National Junior Championships, 2008 also saw him run for the first time outside of Ethiopia at the CAA senior meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, where at the age of 14, he ran a highly promising 1:50.29 - good enough for sixth.

 

Mohammed’s progression continued into 2009, where in Rio de Janeiro, four months after his 15th birthday, he reduced his 800m PB to an incredible 1:46.34.

 

Competing above his age group, the same year he claimed his first championship gold medal taking the African Junior 800m title in 1:48.28. (Incidentally, the women’s title in Mauritius went to a certain Caster Semenya, who soon after added the senior World title in Berlin).

 

In 2010, Mohammed stepped up to the 1000m to first take gold at the East Africa Trials for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, in Khartoum, clocking a world-leading 2:20.59. He then repeated his win at the YOG in Singapore, accelerating with 250m to go to take a clear win in 2:19.54 over Qatari Hamza Driouch (2:21.25).

 

He returned to his specialist distance in 2011, claiming a second African Junior title in Gaborone in May, then improving his 800m PB to 1:45.74 – a national junior record – set defeating an international senior field at Montreuil-sous-Bois, France in June, just three days after running a 3:57.17 mile at the Pre Classic in Eugene.

 

However, he failed to win the IAAF World Youth title in Lille, France; despite setting Ethiopia’s senior national record with 1:44.68, Mohammed was beaten in the final in a fantastic sprint down the home straight by 16-year-old Leonard Kirwa Kosencha (1:44.08) – the Kenyan also smashing the World Youth best in the process.

 

Mohammed’s burgeoning career was about to hit a new high as, at only 17, he qualified for the World Championships in South Korea, where he reached the final – the first Ethiopian man or woman to reach the final of a global championship at senior level at 800m. He clocked 1:45.93 after having won his semi-final in impressive fashion in 1:44.57, defeating more experienced and titled rivals including Poland’s European Champion Marcin Lewandowski, double World Indoor champion Abubaker Kaki and 2007 World champion Alfred Kirwa Yego.

 

Mohammed might have finished eighth and last in that Daegu final, but it certainly didn’t affect his confidence, as a couple of weeks later, he obliterated the World Youth best with 1:43.37 – also another Ethiopian senior national record – in Rieti, Italy, in a race that saw the newly-crowned World champion David Rudisha go close to improving his own World record.

 

Kenyan Rudisha had been the dominant man over two laps ever since his failure to reach the World Championship final in 2009. However, on a rainy September night in Milan, 17-year-old Mohammed Aman stunned the fastest 800m runner in history and the athletics world, by subjecting his self-declared ‘hero’ to a first defeat in 26 finals (34 races including preliminary rounds). Mohammed clocked 1:43.50 with Rudisha just 0.07 behind in second.

 

Even before his win over Rudisha, Aman was being touted as the future of 800m running, and the start of 2012 saw those predictions vindicated, as in Istanbul Mohammed, aged just 18 years and 60 days, became the youngest ever gold medallist at a World Indoor Championships, eclipsing the previous youngest – Abubaker Kaki (18 and 262 days when he took this title in 2008).

 

With Aman having started off the Olympic year so successfully, he was full of confidence when he travelled back to Daegu, South Korea in May for the IAAF World Challenge meeting. He went back into hard training for the outdoor season. His confidence was well placed as he claimed victory in 1:43.51. 11 days later, he was winning another round on the World Challenge circuit – this time at Rabat in Morocco in 1:43.58. Consistent and fast, while all the while continuing an intensive training regime. 

  

His next long-distance flight took him to the western coast of the United States of America and the Diamond League meeting at Eugene. There at the Prefontaine Classic, he had a real neck and neck battle against Abubaker Kaki, losing out in a home straight drive by just 3/100ths to Kaki’s winning time of 1:43.71. Aman afterwards cited a tactical mistake in the race that saw him caught on the bend before the sprint.

 

Aman got back to winning ways in Lille in his final race before heading to the Olympic Games in London, choosing to call off his planned race in Paris in order to concentrate on his preparations.

 

Once at the Games, Aman sailed through the heats and semi-finals – beating fellow teenager Timothy Kitum of Kenya in the latter in 1:44.34. And then he braced himself for what would turn out to be stand-out race – performance-wise – of the whole Olympic Games in London.

 

Aman had planned an attack on the big favourite David Rudisha. What he didn’t know was that the tall, elegant Kenyan was planning an audacious attack of his own – on his own World record. Only his 17 year-old Kenyan team-mate Kitum knew this. So as the gun went inside a packed Olympic Stadium, Rudisha burst away from the gun, pursued by Aman as well as Kaki and Botswana’s Nijel Amos. Only Kitum resisted the urge to follow the great man, who went through the bell in 49.28 seconds, before actually moving up another gear at 300m. Aman gamely tried to stay with him, but the searing pace was just too hot and he tired in the final 200m to drift back out of the medals to finish sixth, while Rudisha became the first man to break 1:41 in the greatest 800m of all time – sending the tens-of-thousands of astounded witnesses inside the Olympic Stadium wild with the sort of excitement they’d generally reserved for home British winners.

 

Indeed, Botswana teenager Nijel Amos smash the World junior record with 1:41.73 (the same time Seb Coe clocked when the future 2012 Olympic Games boss set the then World record in 1981). Rudisha's teammate Kitum set a Kenyan junior record and world age-17 best of 1:42.53 in taking bronze.  Aman, himself, may have finished down in sixth, but his time still broke his own Ethiopian record with 1:43.20.  With all eight finalists fining in under 1:44, Aman had been involved in the greatest 800m race ever for depth of performance. Only seventh-placed Abubaker Kaki failed to set a PB.

 

“For me, it was a special race. David Rudisha was a great runner in this race. I wasn’t disappointed. If I had got a medal, it would have been a big thing, but I am still happy… because it was the first time an Ethiopian had reached the Olympic final at 800m. It was a very different type of race. I didn’t expect that all (sic!) the athletes would break their best ever times.”

 

Aman didn’t comment on his tactics suffice to say: “During the final bend, I clashed with Kaki and it affected me. The race showed me my weakness … After the Olympics I changed my training style. I used to follow other athletes, but now I go out in front and finish in front.”

 

Aman was able to take some more satisfaction when he beat the newly-crowned Olympic champion at the next Diamond League meeting in Zurich. Rudisha was no slouch with a 1:42.81 finish, but Aman, who was the last man to beat the great Kenyan in Milan the previous year, came through again to carve another three-quarters of a second off of his Ethiopian record – going under 1:43 for the first time in his brief career so far with 1:42.53.

 

As such, Aman may have missed out on Olympic medal in London, but he did win the Diamond League Race for 8oo over the year.

 

In 2013, Aman has again looked strong. Running an Ethiopian indoor record in Stockholm, he has won all but one of his 10 international races, including four in the Diamond League and clocked the latest of his dozen sub-1:43 times in the last two years, at the Lausanne Diamond League race in early July - his final race before the World Championships.

 

Aman’s first race of 2013 had seen him set a World Junior best indoors at 600m in Moscow, followed by a national indoor record (1:45.05) at 800m in Stockholm. Six month later, back in the Russian capital, he was to claim a more glorious victory at 800m.

 

His outdoor campaign leading up the year’s major event was impressive. After a second place in the opening Diamond League meeting in Doha, he took six straight wins (Eugene, Rome, Rabat, Ostrava, Birmingham and Lausanne

 

After such an impressive dominance, and in the absence (due to injury) of all the men who filled the Olympic podium in London, many thought that Aman – still only 19 years of age - could come of age in Moscow, provided he got his tactics right. “I am sad Rudisha will not be running in Moscow, reflected Aman in late July, “but for my part, I am not only training in order to beat David Rudisha.”

 

But even without the great Kenyan, it wasn't a smooth path to victory. In the semi-final, he got caught in a poor place on the kerb on the final bend and was fortunate to find a path through the traffic. The final was also a real test., but as the IAAF reported: the final “proved to be a thriller, despite the absence of all three 2012 Olympic Games medallists.” And in it, Aman proved that he now had the race craft to go with his raw speed.

 

The last 100m still came down to a showdown with American Nicky Symmonds. But Aman's timing was perfect and his final spurt powerful as he won his and his nation's first middle-distance World Championships gold (1:43.37). “I learned something from my mistake in the second round,” observed Aman after the race in Moscow. “I believed myself to be the winner in this championships. I applied in the race what my coach had told me. I finally did it. It was my dream and my ambition. I am proud of myself and of my country. I think the middle-distance door is now open to other young Ethiopian athletes. Moscow was my remarkable place in my career.”

 

After Moscow, Aman was given a hero's welcome in Addis Ababa with the rest of the Ethiopian returning team at a rally inside the National Stadium. But there was no doubt who the fans had come to see. Two weeks later, he returned to Europe for the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Berlin, where he continued his winning streak.

 

After Berlin, there was just the little matter of winning his share of the Diamond League Jackpot. In truth he was already assured of the prize, but rules dictate that he still had to participate in the final meeting at Brussels. However, Aman was feeling ill after Berlin. So what happened in the Belgian capital was all the more remarkable.

 

Moscow bronze medallist, Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti ripped up the first lap on the heels of the pace setter in under 49 seconds and was still leading after 600m – reached in a 1:15.27 split – one of the fastest ever recorded in an 800m race. That was when Aman took over again. He sprinted down the home straight to cross the line first in 1:42.37 - again smashing his own Ethiopian national record – this time by 0.16. The time was also almost a full second faster than the previous fastest time in the world in 2013. After another remarkable win he reflected on a banner year (in which the second place in Doha was his only defeat): “After 600m I knew the time was very fast. At that moment I had some pain, but I was struggling to focus on my race. Finally, I did my plan well, I was good all year, I was successful, I am satisfied. I would like to say thank my coach Neguse.”

 

Mohammed Aman started 2014 in similar fashion to the year before – posting only victories, and each result a world leading mark. Again he started with a 600m in Moscow, won in 1:15.31, before going on to for 800m in Stockholm (1:45.08) and Birmingham  (1:44.52) knocking half a second off his previous best indoor time.

 

“It was an amazing race. I broke my national record. I think it helps me for Sopot. I feel good. I want to defend my indoor tittle in Sopot.” It didn't just break the Ethiopian record, it also smashed the African Indoor Record for the distance and put him number three on the all-time list behind only Wilson Kipketer and Yuriy Borzakovskiy.

 

After becoming Ethiopia's first ever middle distance World Indoor Champion in 2012,  Mohammed Aman proclaimed a wish; “My big ambition is to make Ethiopia known (for 800m)” Two years later, one could say that he is certainly doing that – and breaking the stereo-type of what it is to be a World class runner from Ethiopia.


Off the track, Mohammed Aman cuts a relaxed, confident and surprisingly mature figure for one so young. He already speaks some English. He likes sleeping, watching movies, and going to the Mosque. On top of eating injera (traditional aerated pancake that goes with most Ethiopian meals), Mohammed is crazy about milk.


Personal Bests

800m: Outdoors: 1:42.53 NR, NJR (2012), 1:42.37 (2013)

Indoors: 1:45.05 (2013) NJR,1:44.52 (2014)

1500m: 3.43.52 (2011)


Yearly Progression

800m: 2008- 1:50.29; 2009- 1:46.34; 2010- 1:48.5hA; 2011- 1:43.37 NR NJR WYB; 2012- 1:42.53; 2013- 1:43.33; 2013- 1:42.37; 2014: 1:44.52i

 

Career Highlights

2009

1st

African Junior Championships, Bambous

 

1:48.82

later DQ for being underage

2010

1st

Eastern African Youth Olympics Trials, Khartoum(1000m)

 

2:20.59

2010

1st

Youth Olympic Games, Singapore

(1000m)

2:19.54

2009

1st

African Junior Championships, Gaborone

 

1:46.62

2011

2nd

IAAF World Youth Championships, Lille

 

1:44.68

2011

8th

IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Daegu

 

1:45.93

2012

1st

IAAF World Indoor Championships, Istanbul

 

1:48.36

2012

6th

Olympic Games, London

 

1:43.20

2013

1st 

IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Moscow

 

1:43.31

 

*A note on the name of athletes of Ethiopian origin: Ethiopians are customarily referred to by their first name or first and second name together, the second name being the father's first name. (The grandfather’s first name is sometimes added as a third name, and is optional in much the same way that a Western middle name is frequently omitted. However, it is mandatory on all new Ethiopian passports.)


Prepared by Haimanot Turuneh for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2012-2014