The runner Zerei Kbrom Mezngi was two weeks ago taken out on the national athletics team for 2022 and will aim for the Olympics in Paris in 2024.
A few days later, TV 2 meets the 35-year-old at home on Sola. He proudly shows off the national team clothes he has been given.
– I have been running for eight years, but when I put on a lot of national team clothes, I feel very extremely happy, says the new national team runner.
Mezngi is from Eritrea and came to Norway as a refugee in 2012. In 2020, he became a Norwegian citizen.
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– The goal has been to wear national team clothes, and it promises a lot, Mezngi smiles.
Just a few months ago, the motivation was completely different. Mezngi had no quick income from running and was simply not having any money.
– I was very interested in running fast, but due to the economy I considered giving up and rather work as a taxi driver, says Mezngi.
Just three weeks before the National Championships in September, Mezngi wanted to give up athletics.
– It was a little easier to think that I could work one hundred percent as a taxi driver, because then I could live quietly and have a quick income. Before the NM I had no income and no sponsor. It will be difficult without income, because I rent a house and need food.
The turning point
Mezngi rents a basement apartment from a married couple who live above him. A conversation with the couple and manager Jan Janson made him change his mind.
– They told me I had to keep going and I had to think about it. It was a difficult situation. But it was because of them that I lined up in the NM.
And that did Mezngi a trick. Because during the National Championships in Kristiansand in September, he ran in for silver in the 5000-meter, before the next day he followed up with gold in the 10,000-meter.
– I was very motivated after the National Championships, and I have to thank the family (the couple he rents from) and my manager for, says Mezngi.
And after the National Championships, he has maintained his good form, and delivered the best of the year in Europe in both the half marathon and the 10 km street race.
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The week after the National Championships, Mezngi competed in a half marathon in Copenhagen, where he ran into a strong 5th place with a time of 1.00.07, which is only 20 seconds behind the Norwegian record.
– It was very fun to be number five there. I am also very happy with the time. Running at a time without altitude training is very good. It was not completely flat either. I learned a lot from that competition.
On October 3, Mezngi started a 10-kilometer street race in Valencia. It ended with a victory and a new Norwegian record with a time of 27.39, which is 20 seconds faster than Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s record from 2019.
– When I win there I feel very happy, says Mezngi, as he shows off the last hundred meters of the record race.
– I have put on it again and again, and think; Have I done that? I feel extremely happy. I can not describe it in words. I have trained a lot for it.
Gets to train with Ingebrigtsen
Mezngi’s fantastic race harvest has now resulted in a national team place – at the age of 35 years.
– If you are on the national team, it means that you are among the best. It motivates very much.
Now Mezngi is looking forward to training with the Ingebrigtsen brothers on altitude stays, and aiming for gold in the European Championships and medals in the World Cup.
– It means a lot, and I feel very good. It will be exciting to train with the best races in Norway and the world.