The Israeli Cheetah: Haile Satayin

I am not a sports editor, yet, but here it goes.

With some of the world’s greatest marathon runners saying they will not compete because of the pollution – the field is wide open. One of the most unusual runners that hopes to compete is Israeli marathon runner Haile Satayin. He is 48, Ethiopian, and Israeli. He finished 20th at the Athens Olympics four years ago.

Linda Gradstein from NPR reports has a great report which you can listen to:

Israeli marathon runner Haile Satayin will be one of the oldest athletes at the Beijing Olympics.

He immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia. While his passport says he’s 53, he says he’s only 48.

Most days, Satayin gets up around 4:30 a.m. and runs at least a half-marathon before it gets too hot. His favorite running spot is a forest on the edge of the town of Hadera in central Israel.

Watching Satayin run is a little like watching a cheetah — his loping strides seem effortless, and you don’t realize how fast he’s going. But one of his running partners, Dror Haziza, uses a different analogy.

Haziza says Satayin has a special style.

“He just flows. There’s no resistance at all. Sometimes I feel that I’m fighting to run, but with him there’s no fight,” he says. “It just comes naturally. When he runs with us, the whole group gets to a new level.”

He also lives in poverty along with more than 20 percent of Israel’s population.

Satayin lives with his wife and eight children in a small apartment in a rundown sec

tion of Hadera, populated mostly by Ethiopian immigrants. On the second floor of a four-story building, the apartment has three tiny bedrooms, a cramped living room and a kitchen. On a shelf above a bunk bed in one of the children’s rooms are dozens of trophies he won in competitions.

Perhaps he can lead a Birthright Marathon Runners Themed Trip each year to supplement his income?

We will keep an eye on Satayin.