Sunbury Little Athletics star Elias Kahsay is making his mark on the running track.
In his first full athletics season Kahsay has qualified for both the Australian Athletics Championships and the Australian Little Athletics Championships.
Last week he travelled to Sydney for the Australian Athletics Championships, competing in the under-14, 800 metre and 400 metre events, after finishing first and second respectively at the state titles earlier this year.
Last week he made the finals in both events, finishing seventh in the 800 metre and eighth in the 400 metre.
Next up, Kahsay will compete in the under-13 800 metres at the national Little Athletics championships after winning the state title in the same event.
Kahsay said he hadn’t expected success at state level.
“If definitely surprised me and I didn’t think I would go that good,” he said.
“I was just excited to win.”
Despite having won the 800 metres at the Athletics Victoria titles representing Keilor St Bernards, Kahsay didn’t think he was a chance to win at the Little Athletics titles.
The 13-year-old now has his sights set on making the Olympics.
It’s a long way from 18 months ago when he didn’t like running. Kahsay said he only dropped in at Sunbury Little Athletics because he’d been doing well at athletic events at school.
Brooke Rennie, an integration aide at Kahsay’s primary school in Sunbury, recognised his talent.
Ms Rennie’s son was involved at Sunbury Little Athletics and she offered to drive Kahsay to and from his Ascot Vale home each week so he could compete.
“I attended several athletics days for the school and noticed how naturally talented he was at running,” said Ms Rennie. “He was competing against other kids with years of experience, who were wearing the latest designer athletics shoes, and he was beating them.”
Kahsay and his older brother and sister left Ethiopia for Australia in 2011 after the death of their parents. Kahsay was seven at the time.
Last week’s championships also attracted former Sunbury Little Athletics members Junior Mabia and Cody Rodwell. Mabia won gold in the under-18 100 metre relay.