by Margaret Setefano – WSHS Change Maker
IF you were to walk into a Woodridge High ESL classroom you may see Chekole Getenet studying quietly at his desk. But this Ethiopian born student is hiding a secret talent. He can run FAST.
His natural talent was apparent when he started attending Woodridge State High School last year and achieved the Junior Sportsperson of the Year award. However, it was not until Chekole met his coach Murray Watkins that his true potential was unleashed.
Before connecting with his current coach, Chekole continually asked his classroom teacher at the time to help find him a coach.
“Chekole just wouldn’t give up,” says Amy Sullivan, Chekole’s former teacher.
“Every lunch time he would come and ask me if I had found him a coach yet. He was doing his own research online and bringing me phone numbers to call. He did not have the confidence or the language skills to make the phone calls himself,” said Ms Sullivan.
She said when coach Watkins from Fast Track Athletics was contacted he agreed to take Chekole on and train him for free.
“I was impressed, not just by his talent but by his willingness to work hard at his training,” said Mr Watkins.
The club and the school continued to support Chekole and they sponsored him to attend the Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Sydney earlier this year. In Sydney, Chekole surprised everyone by finishing second in the 1500-metres, after only four months of training. Since that time Chekole has not stopped running. He recently also won gold at the Queensland Cross Country championships in Toowoomba.
Ms Sullivan says everyone agrees there is a big future for this former refugee and the Woodridge community is proudly cheering him on.