How Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji is lighting up the track
( Hungary, Budapest)
She was born and raised in the Jewe Bori district of the West Shewa Zone. It was there that Diribe Welteji first caught the eye of her teacher for her passion in sports. From a young age, she participated enthusiastically in school competitions.
Diribe is a rising star in the middle distances. In 2023, the teenager took silver in the 1500m at the World U-20 Championships. And at just 16, she broke the championship record to win gold in the 800m at the 2018 event. Most recently, Diribe clinched silver in the 1500m at the 2021 World Athletics Championships.
“My teacher used to encourage me, saying that with hard work and dedication to running, I could excel and make my country proud,” Diribe told The Reporter.
As she started winning at the regional level with her club, Lege Tafo Lege Dadi, bigger opportunities emerged. She began focusing on the 400m and 800m, seeing her talent develop with each race. Word of her abilities began to spread far and wide.
In Budapest this summer, Diribe continued her rise, taking silver in the 1500m in a tight race against defending champion Sifan Hassan and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya. “I wasn’t bothered by the humid conditions,” she said. “Luckily the heat didn’t slow me as much as the others. I’m used to running well in hot weather.”
Her aspirations remain lofty – to one day follow in the footsteps of distance legend Tirunesh Dibaba while also achieving gold at both the World Championships and Olympics. As with any success, Diribe acknowledges challenges lie ahead but says commitment and perseverance will help her continued success.
In 2019, the rising star Diribie shone brightly, winning gold in the 15,000m at the African U21 Championships in Tunisia. She also made strides on the global stage, placing sixth in the 800m at the African Games in Rabat, Morocco before falling just short of the semifinals at the Doha World Championships.
A year later, Diribe was aiming for Olympic glory at the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Games. While victory eluded her in the 1500m, she rebounded the same month with silver at the World U20 Championships in Nairobi.
This past summer saw more gains. At her first World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Diribe clocked a scorching personal best of 1:57.02 over 800m to take fourth place on the biggest stage.
Then in September, the 20-year-old broke new ground. Driven to outdo her countrywoman Gudaf Tsegay, Diribe exploded to a meet-record time of 3:56.91 to claim her first ever Diamond League win in the 1500m in Poland. It was a breakthrough performance that showcased her burgeoning talents on the global circuit.
With lofty goals of one day matching the legendary feats of her idol Tirunesh Dibaba while also achieving Olympic and world title glory, Diribe understands challenges lay ahead. However, with commitment to hard work and perseverance in overcoming obstacles, she believes success in sport and in life is attainable.