Fabiano Joseph (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Edmonton, Canada

Fabiano Joseph - World Champion at 19 years old

Standing beneath an overhead heater inside the press conference tent,  a doping control pass hanging around his neck, Tanzania’s Fabiano Joseph Naasi was the picture of contentment.

Rain beat down outside,  drenching the crowd,  the volunteers and other athletes but the 20 year old couldn’t have cared less. Grinning from ear to ear he was only just realising that after finishing second in the two previous years he was now a bonafide world champion. And of course he is now $30,000 richer -  a princely sum in the East African country.

"My family is living in Arusha I live with them there,” he says. “My father is a farmer, with goats and cows and chickens and crops. I have a brother and a sister at home. I am the only runner. They are farmers."

"I think I will help my family. We will try to build a house and buy a car. So I will help them with this. I want to live together with my family."

The influence of other Tanzanian runners is apparent and has been since he was a small child. He remembers seeing national heroes excel in sport and wanted to emulate their achievements.

“I started running in primary school,” he remembers, “I was finished in primary school in 2001 and in 2002 I started running in the athletics camp in Arusha. I am training in Arusha on Mount Meru it’s high altitude it is 1,500m high.”

"I train in Arusha because there is Filbert Bayi, Juma Ikaanga and Suleiman Nyambui they live in Arusha. Filbert Bayi ran in the Olympics and I say maybe next year if I train in the camp I can go to the Olympics.I like training there with the other guys there and Filbert Bayi and others, because I am training in the camp, they help me with food and shoes and facilities. Filbert has helped me a lot.”

Joseph claims to have upped his training mileage this year in order to better prepare for this world half marathon championships. Long hard runs at altitude with fellow Tanzanian John Yuda Msuri, who finished 6th in Edmonton, have obviously yielded results. He has eschewed the need to base himself in Europe like so many other athletes.

Joseph will celebrate with his family and friends upon his return but that won’t be until October 11th. He flies to London tomorrow and then on to a 10km race in Paris. He plans to call his father from London and let him know of his success.

“It feels good, It is very good for me because I am now number one and I have been number two twice before. I am very happy.”

Paul Gains for the IAAF