There’s been a lot of pressure for me. In Eritrea, I remember vividly, I wasn’t old enough, but my older brothers had to hide when the soldiers came and surrounded the village at night. You hear the screaming, ‘They’re coming, they’re coming!’ and my brothers running to the bushes, because they knock on your door and if you’re old enough to hold a gun, they take you to war.
Just 8 years old, he watched a kid get blown up by a roadside mine. Those things are still in mind, and you don’t take things for granted. You seize every chance you get to excel.
He talks about the pressure to win New York, to medal for his country (he has been an American citizen since 1998), and to win at Boston the year after the bombing. You try to play it cool as much as you can. Sometimes Mother Nature has her say. You get injured, like I did in 2008 in NYC. I ended up getting eighth place. But it’s not the end of the world, and you have to surround yourself with people who believe in you. You gain confidence when you’re training, and if you do the proper training, you should hit pretty good results. You may not hit it out of the ballpark, but do the best you can and seize the moment in the race.