Tigst Assefa on how career threatening injury spurred her to breaking world marathon record

ATHLETICS Tigst Assefa on how career threatening injury spurred her to breaking world marathon record

Festus Chuma 16:32 - 30.09.2023

Ethiopian marathoner Tigst Assefa defied a career-threatening injury to smash the world record and has revealed the relentless journey from setback to historic triumph.

Ethiopian marathoner Tigst Assefa left the world in awe with her remarkable feat, smashing the women's world record in Berlin last Sunday by clocking an astonishing two hours, 11 minutes, and 53 seconds.

However, her journey to this historic achievement was not without its hurdles. In a shocking revelation, Assefa disclosed that just four years ago, she was told her athletics career was effectively over following a severe Achilles tendon injury during the 2019 Valencia half-marathon.

At the time, medical experts in both Spain and Italy, where she received subsequent treatment, painted a grim picture. They concluded that her chances of returning to the sport were minimal. 

Yet, defying the prognosis, Assefa, fueled by determination, familial support, and the unwavering belief of her coach, embarked on a relentless journey to prove the naysayers wrong.

"I did not give up. I told myself I will get back and make history," Assefa declared in an exclusive interview with BBC Afaan Oromoo. 

Reflecting on the injury that almost derailed her career, she added, "I will never forget my injury. But at the same time, it helped me to work hard. I could not have seen this day if it were not for the injury."

Assefa's unyielding spirit and competitive drive were pivotal in her triumphant return to the pinnacle of marathon running. 

"I am fiercely competitive. I don’t like to lose," she asserted, revealing that her newfound goal is to complete a marathon in under two hours and 10 minutes. 

"It could be broken [again] with better training. This is because [in Berlin] I was not tired. I had energy," Assefa stated.

Behind this extraordinary athlete stands the guiding force of coach Gemedu Dedefo, who believes that with the right support, women in athletics can achieve even greater feats.