My name is Haftom Welday. I am a runner. My big goal is the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. I want to compete for Germany in the marathon there.
My journey was unusual. As a young person in my old East African homeland of Tigray, I enjoyed playing soccer with my friends. But running? No! I had no desire to do that back then.
In 2014, fleeing war and violence, I left my old home in Tigray. My dangerous trip took me through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean to Europe. I thank God that I survived the journey!
In Pattensen, Lower Saxony, where I was warmly welcomed, I started playing sports. I realized that I could run fast when I had to run three kilometers to catch a bus. My first sporting success was – the German Sports Badge!
Friedrich Weber, who granted me my sports badge on TSV Pattensen’s running track, recognized my talent and supported me. I was 25 years old and still at the beginning of my running career.
I then began to train more systematically, and I also exchanged my 15-euro sneakers from the discounter for my first real running shoes. The more professional training began to pay off quickly, I took part in competitions and fun runs and was able to win a number of North German titles.
2021 brought another athletic breakthrough for me: I completed in the half marathon in Berlin and reached a time of 1:02:47 and in my marathon debut in Berlin I placed 13th with a time of 2:13:47.
I have been living in Hamburg with my wife Brtukan and my three children Matheus, Hana and Hyab since the end of 2021. I joined the Hamburger Laufladen e.V., and in my new adopted city I get a lot of support and have the perfect environment to focus on professional running.
In 2022, things continued on a steep upward trajectory. In mid-September, I received German citizenship. That gave me a real boost, and a few days later I crossed the finish line at the Berlin Marathon in 2:09:06 – I was the fastest German and set a new personal best time.
I have been in the German national squad since November 2022, which makes me very proud. I hope to be able to compete for Germany at the World Championships in Budapest in 2023.
What are my limits? That’s what I want to find out! In any case, my big dream – the 2024 Olympics in Paris – seems within reach. I will do everything possible to make it a reality!
Alle Fotos © Alan Orpin