Zerisenay Tadese

September 26, 2012
Zersenay Tadese is an Eritrean long-distance track and road running athelet, who crrently holds the men's half marathon world record. His bronze medal in the 10,000 metres at the 2004 Athens Olympics made him the first ever Eritrean Olympic medallist, and his 20 km title at the 2006 IAAF World Road Running Championships also made him the country's first athlete to win at a world championship event. He does not use a sprint finish to win races: his strategy relies upon acombination of efficient running and fast pace setting. Zersenay has found most of his success over the half marathon distance, with four consecutive victories in the World Half Marathon Championships from 2006 to 2009, and a world record at the Lisbon Half Marathon in 2010. He has also excelled in cross country running, winning a gold, one silver, and two bronze medals in the long distance race over the last five IAAF World Cross Country Championships. In 2009 Zersenay became only the secondman (after Paul Tergat) to win three World Championship medals over three different surfaces in the same year: winning World Cross Country bronze, 10,000 metres World Championship silver on the track, and gold in road running at the World Half Marathon Championships. He is a popular public figure in his home country; 2500 guests attended his wedding to Merhawit Solomon, which
was broadcast live on Eritrean television. His brother, Kidane Tadese, is also a professional distance runner. Career

Early life & Cycling

Zersenay Tadese was born in Adi Bana, Eritrea, and had a peaceful, rural upbringing
with his six siblings, largely avoiding the troubles of the Eritrean War of Independence. He became interested in cycling in his teenage years and, after winning a number of races, he set his sights upon becoming a professional cyclist in Europe. However, the races of 30–50 km fell short of the distancesneeded to compete on the European circuit and he was ill-prepared for a transition to top-level cycling. He was a relative late-comer to competitive running: in his late teens, scouts from a local athletics club suggested that his cycling stamina might translate to running and invited him to compete.He won the race and was spurred on by the victory to start taking the sport seriously and focus on running.Zersenay was adamant that his early years in cycling had given him a firm foundation for endurance running.

First Victory

His first foray into the international athletics circuit came in 2002, when he attended the 2002 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Dublin. Although he was wearing ill-fitting shoes and was somewhat puzzled at hearing a starting gun for the first time, he managed to finish in 30th place with a time of 36 minutes and 37 seconds. However, he remained some distance off the winner Kenenisa Bekele. He competed at his first IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in May of that year, finishing just outside of the top twenty runners with a time of 1:03:05. He competed on the track at the African Athletics Championships , taking sixth place in the 10,000 metres race in Radès, Tunisia, rounding off a modest debut year.

The 2003 season saw Zersenay establish himself as an emerging force in cross country: he broke into the top ten at the 2003 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, and finished in the top three in all of his six races in Europe that winter.A 5000 metres win at the KBC Night of Athletics brought Zersenay an Eritrean record of 13:11.07, and a place at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics At the 2003 World Championships, he improved his record further to 13:05.57 and finished in eighth place in the 5000 metres final. More improvements came at the World Half Marathon Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal, where he recorded a personal best of 1:01:26 to finish in seventh position. Olympic medallist The 2004 season represented a breakthrough for Zersenay and he established himself as a serious contender in distance running. He
signed a contract with Adidas Spain and brought the team victory at the European Clubs' Cross Country Cup in February The following month he bettered his previous showings at the World Cross Country Championships with a sixth-place finish. With the help of team mates Yonas Kifle and Tesfayohannes Mesfen, among others, he took Eritrea to third position in the team competition – the first time the country had
reached the podium at a world cross country event. Two months later he finished second in the 10 km Great Manchester Run; his time of 27:59 was five seconds behind winner Craig Mottram.
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