When Ageze Guadie ran the Rotterdam Marathon this month, it was the first time he had ever tried the race. He qualified for Brazil by nine seconds.

By Uri Talshir |

The story of Ageze Guadie is a bit like the story of someone who waits at the bus stop every day but the driver never notices him. The bus drives on, the man tries to catch it and just misses it at the next stop. One day, just as the door is slamming on his face, he gets in. He gets noticed.

Ageze Guadie was born in Ethiopia in 1989 and in 2002 came with his family to Israel. While his family was housed in an absorption center in Be’er Sheva, the 13-year-old was sent to a boarding school near Hadera far away.

Before that he had no connection to sports. When he tried to join the local running team, the coach said he was too weak and skinny. Ageze Guadie found himself training alone on the beach until he would pass the runners who had made the team instead of him.

Representing the club Hapoel Emek Hefer, Ageze Guadie won regional and national competitions at middle distances for under-16s. He even was the Israeli youth champion in cross country, but the army didn’t grant him the benefits of an “outstanding athlete” during his military service. He was merely considered an “active athlete.”

“It seems I wasn’t good enough and there were others,” says Guadie, who served as a technical quartermaster.

Both as a soldier and after his release, Guadie worked as a cafe waiter and a mover. He used the money to pay for training camps. In 2011 he finished third in a 10-kilometer race but never felt he was appreciated.

“I was happy I had the ability, but even then no one helped me out,” he says. “I asked myself what would happen. Everything I earned I spent on training, I lived on an overdraft and felt it couldn’t continue that way.”

Continue reading this story on Haaretz
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