Watching the Sydney Olympics inspired Meba Tadesse to take up running and now the Ethiopian teenager has dreams of emulating his great countrymen such as Haile Gebrselassie.
Tadesse, the newly-crowned World Junior Cross Country champion, was one of four individual success in Brussels this weekend and he admits the success of his team-mates inspired him to overcome pre-race favourite Boniface Kiprop of Uganda and win the gold medal.
“I believed I would be one of then leading runners, but you can never be sure you will win the gold medal, so of course I was very happy to give Ethiopia another victory."
“It was watching the great Ethiopian runners at the 2000 Olympic Games that inspired me to start running and, who knows, one day I may become a famous runner who others look up to. This is a great dream for me and now I have many more goals I would like to achieve in athletics.”
Tadesse, the son of farming parents, hails from Shoa, 190km from Addis Ababa, and has three brothers and four sisters – some of whom he says may go on to follow him into the sport.
“God willing, this victory will help me go on to other successes. I won the Ethiopian Junior Cross Country Championships, having finished third last year, and I came here knowing I was running well and ready to challenge for a medal."
Ethiopia's first day was a help
“The fact Ethiopia did so well on Saturday (20 March) was very inspirational and it helped me to chase another gold medal. I was seventh in Lausanne (senior short course) last year, and the experience of that competition and facing some great athletes was a help."
“Boniface Kiprop ran well, and he made it a tough race, but he was breathing hard so when I made my final attack with 200 metres to go I felt sure I would win. The mud didn’t make it easy but I had trained hard so I was able to cope with the conditions."
“We were both pushing hard to try to win the race and it meant it was an exciting race, and to pull away to win as I did has done some good for my confidence."
“Having run well today as a junior I now want to go on to become a successful senior athlete, but how long it will take me to break into Ethiopian teams I cannot say because there are so many great athletes in my country."
“I hope this is not the last time the athletics world hears of me, though. I want to achieve many more successes.”