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Sports Center Hopes To Raise Future Stars

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Clad in sportswear and cleated running shoes, Ephrata Ansa warmed up for a two-hour, early-morning 100-meter sprint.

At 17, Ansa hopes to eventually become an Olympic medalist. "I am inspired by all the big names who came from this city and became world-renowned athletic stars," Ansa said, citing well-known Ethiopian athletes Tirunesh Dibaba, Derartu Tulua and Kenenissa, all of whom came from Arsi.

The young girl has come all the way from capital Addis Ababa to Arsi's Athlete Tirunesh Dibaba Sports Training Center – some 180km away – in hopes of becoming an international star.

She isn't alone. Scores of other Ethiopian athletes are doing the same, coming to the center in hopes of replicating the careers of earlier Ethiopian athletes who managed to achieve international fame.

Established in 2009, the training center is the result of a dream to become a factory of champions, a fountain of athletic talent – and many Ethiopians are living this dream.

Ansa is one of them. "Inspiration brought me here, as many athletes are born here and later made it big in the international athletics arena," the young girl said.

"I am happy to see Arsi not only giving birth to athletes, but also to be a training hub," she added.

Inside the center, enthusiasm fills every corner. Several athletes were inside, receiving instruction from coaches on how to improve their abilities. Coach Tariku Temech, for one, was busy instructing his players.