This Olympic champ found her sport on the streets of Tel Aviv

In Israel, Lonah Chemtai Saltpeter needs little introduction. After all, she is one of the top athletes in the country.

Last year alone, she won bronze medals in both the marathon at the World Athletics Championships and the 10,000 meter dash at the European Championships.

In 2020 she won the Tokyo marathon and in 2018 she placed first in the European 10,000 meter race. Last November, she placed second in the women’s New York City Marathon.

Chemtai Salpeter also represented Israel at the Tokyo 2020 and Rio 2016 Olympics and holds a number of national running records. Next on their list: the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“When I run, I feel free. I enjoy that my mind is free and you feel your energy, you feel like something is relaxing in the mind,” she says to ISRAEL21c.

This Olympic champion found her sport on the streets of Tel Aviv
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter has already won two international bronze medals and is training for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Photo courtesy of NN Runningteam

“You have to run for yourself to feel good,” she adds. “I also love running because you travel to many countries and meet many people. You get a lot of ideas and you can learn a lot from athletes from different countries.”

Family is her motivation

Chemtai Salpeter, 34, turned professional in sports less than a decade ago. She was not one of these athletes who were already concerned with competitions as a child.

“I used to run when I was young, not seriously, just running like other kids at school,” she notes. “I started running seriously in Israel.”

Born and raised in West Pokot in western Kenya, Chemtai Salpeter came to work in Israel in 2008. Once here, she started running as a pastime.

“When I started seeing people walking in [Tel Aviv], I said to myself, ‘I can be like her,'” she recalls. “Then I met my husband and he encouraged me and supported me a lot.”

This Olympic champion found her sport on the streets of Tel Aviv
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter says her family is her motivation. Photo with the kind permission of Lonah Chemtai Salpeter

A few years later, she and her husband, running trainer Dan Salpeter, became one of the leading sports teams in the country. They also became parents of Roy, now eight, with whom they live in Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in northern Israel.

“They are very motivating me,” she says.

dealing with pain and loss

Israel21c caught Chemtai Salpeter shortly after it has returned from a week -long training session in Kenya.

“I’m not with my family when I’m in training – there is no height in Israel so I have to go to Kenya and they have to stay at home. So there is this challenge that we are not together most of the time. “

Another challenge for athletes is to learn how to deal with pain, she says.

“And to lose. You train for months and you are disappointed, but you have to face a challenge. You need to know where your weaknesses were and what mistakes you made.”

Another challenge is the physical and hormonal changes to which women are exposed.

At the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, it slower towards the end of the race, even though it was one of the leading runners. The reason? Menstrual cramps – a fact that she made public and explained to raise awareness of the problem.

In silence

A funny fact is that Chemtai salpeter runs in silence and without music.

“I always like to listen to my heartbeat,” she says. “Even though I run 42 kilometers, I run without music.”

This Olympic champion found her sport on the streets of Tel Aviv
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter started running as a hobby before turning pro at the encouragement of her partner, a running coach. Photo courtesy of NN Runningteam

She also has some pro tips for aspiring runners.

“It’s hard at first; In the beginning, you may even get scared of the way you breathe while running. It’s something you’ve just started so you can tell yourself not to be scared — just keep going, and the more you practice, the easier it gets,” she promises.

Looking to the future, Chemtai Salpeter hopes to encourage children in Israel to try running and exercise. She also hopes that her greatest achievements are yet to come.

“I will still do my best and run for the marathon. It’s not short – it’s a long haul and you have to train and choose for a long time. I like it and I make my family proud and happy.”


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