The blue, European champion of the 10,000: «In Ethiopia a miserable existence awaited me, as an orphan in an orphanage. I started from nothing. Having clothes and school books in Trentino was already a lot “
The gold medal in the 10 thousand European Championship around the neck. The club card reserved for the great Italian middle distance runners in the history of athletics (Cova, Mei, Antibo) in your pocket. A plate of tomatoes and mozzarella, plus the luxury of a beer (“Outside the competition I can allow myself two a week, I don’t always respect the rule but the average is the same”). His girlfriend Sofia, with whom he lives in the hills of Trento, Cognola district, next to her. On the night of his triumph, in Munich, Yeman Crippa is the happiest man in the world.
Yeman, his story of an Ethiopian orphan adopted as a child by an Italian couple together with five brothers and cousins to live in the mountains of Trentino is anything but banal. How does her past run on the track with her?
“I had a particular story, it’s true. I feel so lucky to have been able to come to Italy and to have discovered that there is another life. I was given a different, better future. This is the reason why I dedicate this gold that I have been waiting for a long time to myself ».
A dominated European final.
«I set the race on pace changes: when I’m not in condition I pay them on the final straight. But here in Monaco I was fine, I had given up on the World Championship in Oregon for the European Championship, not an easy choice, but in the end it was a good one. I understood with the bronze in the 5,000 that I was fine, that I could do good things, so in the 10,000 I managed to manage myself. I saw the Norwegian go away, I have to pull my ears for having looked at the French too much, I risked losing the moment, but my legs were there: I got gassed, and the minimum effort was enough to recover ».
And then he showed his muscles to the camera, like Jacobs.
“But I have much less! But in the gesture of flexing the muscles there is power, I wanted to show mine and bring out all the emotion I had inside. Immediately after the finish line I also made the gesture of CR7’s exultation after a goal… ».
But you are an Inter fan.
«My dad Roberto forced me to cheer Inter as a child: in Trentino we used to go to the bar to watch matches and when Inter lost I would cry… how stupid! I am a football fan also because I played it: central midfielder, they also tried me at full back but I ran everywhere to recover balls. We were losing 11-0 and only me was running! I loved Stankovic and Eto’o: in the first races, if I won, after the finish I would do the “shot” like Dejan ».
More fun to run and win alone, instead of running for ten other people and losing. Did this long-awaited gold finally have the sweet taste it imagined?
«It is more beautiful than I imagined: I knew from the beginning that, if the Norwegian had gone away, I would have gone to take him back. But until I reach the best in the world, I will not be satisfied. Now I look carefully at this medal, then with my coach Massimo Pegoretti we will try to understand how to reach the rivals in front of me. I won in Europe, but the World Cup and the Olympics are something else ».
In a world that travels at three hundred per hour, will Yeman be able to savor this victory as you are, or are you already thinking about the next race?
«I don’t always manage to enjoy good things: in life I have had bad things but also beautiful ones. I never feel the best, I never feel satisfied ».
When does your uphill story affect this feeling of dissatisfaction, in your opinion?
“I feel lucky to have been adopted: this, after all, is my second life. A miserable existence awaited me in Ethiopia, as an orphan in an orphanage, I had no idea how it would end. My adoptive parents gave me a chance: a normal life, a shelter, school, athletics. I arrived in Italy from Dessie, 400 km from Addis Ababa, a small village. I started from nothing. Having clothes and school books in Trentino was already a lot. My mates had everything, designer clothes and stationery toys. I have never had any games or clothes bought, never had material things. My brothers and I have always had to deserve everything, but that’s okay. I learned to suffer, to sacrifice myself, to work with determination for a result. The middle distance, in comparison, seemed almost easy to me ».
Remember her biological parents, who disappeared when she was 5?
“I have some memories. Ugly. They both left for an infectious disease. But children in Africa are necessarily far ahead: they grow up on the street, do and understand things that an Italian child would never do and would never understand. Who leaves a child on the street in Italy? Nobody. But in Ethiopia it is normal. I grew up like this ».
Have you ever returned to Dessie?
“Many times. The first I was overloaded with emotions. I couldn’t wait to go back to where I played hide and seek with friends, to see home again, the place where I came into the world. Once there, however, I no longer felt the spark. The place felt tiny, emotionally empty. The emotions have vanished. The two sisters who first joined me in Italy lived it like me, my brothers, on the other hand, did not: they got excited when they returned to Ethiopia ».
He named Jacobs. What did he think when he saw Jacobs and Tamberi win Olympic gold in sprint and high, last year in Tokyo, ten minutes apart?
«I was there too in Japan at the Olympics, but in March I had been stopped for a month due to injury and at the Games, although I thought I was well trained, I discovered I was not in condition. It wasn’t me in Tokyo. My goal is to become like Marcell and Gimbo, we share the desire to show the world who we are. Their Olympic medals have triggered all the blues the desire to think big. It was just a mental leap: this is what changed the Italy of athletics. At the 2018 European Championship in Berlin we had won 6 medals, here 11, including three golds ».
La Torre, the national team director, would like her to make the transition from middle distance on the track to the marathon on the street. It’s ready?
«Very ready, even though I already know that I will miss the track … I would like to experiment on a marathon as early as next spring, but things have to be done well, they have to be planned and organized. I like the road, long distances too: I really want to bang my nose at it ».
And when she finds herself side by side with the very strong Africans, what thoughts will whirl through her head?
«I already meet them in the call rooms of my international competitions, and I ask myself: what does he have more than me? In what ways has he trained better than me? The Kenyan Kipkoge, to say, is an icon: he never doubts himself, he wins every marathon. With Africans I speak a little in Amharic and a little in English. However, Kipkoge aside, they often go into trouble, without thinking: they throw themselves into the race and as it goes, it goes. Their strength is unconsciousness. They have invited me many times to train in Kenya. Sooner or later, maybe, I’ll go there ».
Meanwhile he went there on vacation.
“Last year, with Sofia. Safari and then sea ». (Sofia intervenes: “Oh my God, sea … I was swimming, I tied the life jacket to him!”).
In just over a month, Italy will be called to vote, Yeman. Do you have clear ideas? “Absolutely no! I have to study the situation well to understand which side to be on ».
«A 3 km race in Feltre, then 5 thousand at the meeting in Rovereto, where I will try to go under 13 minutes. Then, finally, vacation with Sofia. Formentera, Mallorca or Menorca: we haven’t decided yet. Or Africa, in Madagascar. In any case, relax. I don’t run on vacation ».
August 22, 2022 (change August 22, 2022 | 13:03)
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