Remembering Purpose

Dejen Gebreselassie
For Dejen, faith plays an important role in his running but ultimately, it reminds him of his purpose; something all athletes can lose sight of.


Delving into the term "faith" can sometimes become controversial.

When Tasmanian distance runner Dejen Gebreselassie mentioned it was faith that played a significant role in his running, I was intrigued at what he meant.

What we came to distill from our conversation was that for Dejen, faith reminds him of his purpose.

This 'purpose' -the reason why we do our chosen sport - can often get lost in the hustle and bustle of training, competition, social media and expectations of ourselves.

This quick chat with Dejen provides a timely reminder to reflect on what our purpose is; in sport and in life.

What is faith?

The sun sets on a chilly Hobart afternoon, so I jump straight into the conversation by asking Dejen to define 'faith' and what it means to him.

Understandably Dejen struggles to immediately answer. Tough question.

"Faith... faith means a lot to me. I come from Ethiopia and I'm Christian so faith is something that has always been important."

"For me, faith means life; it means living - but it goes beyond that. It gives me something to connect to and makes me think about what I have to do in my life."

"It is a tough question but I think that overall, faith gives me an opportunity to reflect on the reasons why I run - on my purpose."

Instantly we look at each other - realising that this topic goes beyond any religious notions to something that all athletes can relate to - remembering purpose.

Remembering purpose

What I love about my Tassie Athlete conversations already is that it's not a one way street.

It is not me interviewing Dejen or the other athletes about their background, but it's a back and forth conversation about something specific and meaningful.

To be honest, I jumped at this topic with Dejen because it resonated with me.

It resonated because recently there were times when I had forgotten the purpose of my own running.

I'd forgotten why I do it, why I started - all of which affected my overall wellbeing and commitment.

Dejen elaborates on my confession by saying, "I think that's true for everyone, sometimes we do forget."

"As athletes - we're human - and we get lost in life. In response we search for something to help us rebound, to help us refocus and get back to where we want to be. I think remembering your purpose can help."

"For me, faith is this ongoing opportunity, and I think this is something everyone can learn from."

"I know not everyone is religious and it's not about that. I think it's important to remember why we started whether we're doing cricket, or running, or bike riding."

"One thing I know is that we all do our sport because we have a purpose behind that. For me it's my faith, but I think this is a good opportunity for all of us competing to remember and reflect on your purpose."

Dejen is frozen - our filming has gone a little longer than anticipated but he's pushed through.

Thankfully he's already completed his main running training for the day, as I pack away the camera gear and lace-up to do mine under lights.

The whole session is spent thinking about purpose.

A barrage of messages from Dejen when I get home and check my phone - thanking me for the opportunity to chat and doing his own reflection of the topic- suggests we both benefitted from this being one of the first ventures for the Tassie Athlete.

A special thanks goes to Dejen for taking the time to share a small insight into his running.

- Dominic Anastasio


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