Home/Olympics
0
  Debate

Debate

Yared Nuguse's success—Is family support the ultimate game-changer in an athlete's career?

A self-proclaimed “Swiftie”, Notre Dame’s Yared Nuguse will be flying to Paris in search of his first-ever Olympic gold medal. At last month’s US Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Nuguse punched his ticket to be on the national team after finishing the men’s 1500m race in second place, clocking 3:30.86. While for most athletes, making it to the Games itself is an once-in-a-lifetime dream, for Yared, the journey has been even more challenging so far, to say the least.

Originally tracing his lineage to Ethiopia, Yared will be carrying the Stars and Stripes on the grand stage, However, as a refugee, if he was told as a child about the journey he’s waiting to embark on at the French capital, Nuguse would probably fight himself to hold back a disbelieving chuckle. But luckily for him, he had the people who enlisted their trust in his capabilities.

Who are the parents of Yared Nuguse?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Alem Nuguse and Mana Berhe made a difficult journey to leave their homeland behind to escape the tumultuous political situation in Ethiopia that has wreaked havoc for years. While both of Yared’s parents are from the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia, fate brought their paths together only when they left their country behind (they met in Arlington, Virginia). With hopes of making a better life, and leaving behind the horrors they went through, Mana and Alem settled in Louisville, Kentucky, where Yared was born.

In Ethiopia, the socialist regime brought upon the threat of imprisonment for Alem, but his experience was fortunately not as troublesome as many of his countrymen’s. Facing a crackdown by the government for allegations of dissent, Alem made the treacherous journey out of the country, first into Sudan, and then to the USA.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Coming into the States as immigrants, as political refugees, if we’re being technical, Alem set up a liquor store, which turned out to be their ticket to starting a whole new chapter of their lives. And yet, despite all their struggles and ordeals, Mana and Alem made sure their children made use of every opportunity that came their way.

How did Nuguse’s family support his Olympic dream?

My family is a huge part of who I am. I wouldn’t be hard-working in school or running if I didn’t have that strong force within me to pursue that,” Yared said in an interview with Indy Star in 2021. Yared is the fourth of six siblings (Fastina, Tegest, Senait, Yared, and the twins Zebeeb and Alula), all of who have had education forced upon them by their parents. A math teacher in Ethiopia, Alem came to the US with only a dream: to keep the fire in his mind from burning out, and that’s exactly what he has done with his children.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Yared visited Notre Dame’s campus with his mother and felt an inkling of the school’s academic programs and its general environment. Since then, the middle-distance runner has put his alma mater on the map with his consistent performances on the track. While Alem does feel the pangs of pain to see Ethiopia still struggling to come out of its all-engulfing civil war even after decades of strife between political factions in the country, he hopes his son will go on to etch a name for himself on the grand stage: a platform where Nuguse can proudly announce the culturally steeped legacy he carries on his shoulders.

For now, the 25-year-old will need to wait just a few more weeks to know if he indeed has what it takes in him to bring gold not only to the USA but also bring to attention the turmoil that has been ravaging the African nation.