Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Sentayehu Eshetu is smiling proudly in his smart blue Adidas track suit top.
It is a gift from Tirfi Tsegaye, the latest athlete he has helped emerge from the humble town of Bekoji to become a superstar of world athletics.
Two months ago in Germany, Tirfi recorded the fastest women’s time of the year to triumph in front more than one million spectators at the Berlin Marathon.
Now, living in Addis Ababa and a regular contender in the biggest races, she has returned to her roots to say ‘thank you’ to the father figure who made it all possible.
For Sentayehu, the legendary coach, Tirfi is just the latest in a long line of talented youngsters who turned out to be running royalty.
Since 1992, when his protégé Derartu Tulu became the Olympic 10,000m champion in Barcelona, the gold rush has never stopped.
Those he guided as juniors include three-time Olympic gold-medal winners Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba, two of the sport’s all-time greats.
Add to that list, Fatuma Roba and Tiki Gelana, Olympic marathon winners in 1996 and 2012 respectively and Ejegayehu Dibaba, who won silver over 10,000m at Athens 2004.
A third Dibaba sister, Genzebe, has this year been nominated as IAAF World Athlete of the Year after setting indoor world records at 1,500m and 3,000m, while Kenenisa’s brother Tariku Bekele was a bronze medalist over 10,000m at London 2012.
Source: The Reporter