Dejen Gebreselassie

Remembering Purpose

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.
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Introduction

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

RETURN TO ATHLETES

Amelia Spence

Homecoming

After some time overseas rediscovering her love for the sport, former Hockeyroo and Tasmania's Hockey One captain Amelia Spence shares her experience of moving back home and her love of the state.

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Hugh Nicklason

A Home Away From Home

With Tasmania tattooed on his chest, distance runner Hugh Nicklason shares his journey on moving overseas in pursuit of wider ambitions.

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