Hagos Gebrhiwet MoscowIt’s the time of the year when 18-year-olds in Ethiopia fret about their looming university entrance exams or immerse themselves with the latest trends in pop culture. But newly-minted World junior cross-country champion Hagos Gebrhiwet is not a typical teenager.

In fact, he is not a typical Ethiopian distance runner either.

“Qualifying for Moscow, that’s all I’m thinking of right now,” says the World junior record-holder for 5000m outdoors and 3000m indoors. “I just want to maintain my current best performance and keep doing my training properly and without fear. In Moscow, I aim to gain something big for my country and myself too.”

Gebrhiwet was already being talked up as the ‘next Kenenisa Bekele’ in some quarters, albeit in modest and hushed tones, following his breakout season in 2012 where he smashed the World junior 5000m record with 12:47.53 at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Paris.

But the comparisons and plaudits have grown both in volume and clout over the last month since winning the junior title at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoscz, Ethiopia’s first victory in the event since 2008.

Ethiopia has had many junior cross-country champions who offered a lot of promise only to fall flat after turning senior. However, none of them at 18 have run faster 3000m and 5000m times than legends Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele at the same age or completed a tough 7.5km course in the Polish city in a stunning 21:04. Read more

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