Dubai: How life can change in four months time! Back in June, prior to finishing second in the San Francisco Marathon, Dubai runner Ismail Ssenyange was a security guard living in the Sonapur labour camp accommodation and struggling to make his passion and livelihood meet.
Fast forward to this day and the 26-year-old has seen his life change beyond recognition after XPRESS carried the story of his incredible achievement in its June 20 issue.
The Ugandan is now a Sales Executive and Brand Ambassador for Sketchers Middle East, draws four times his previous salary and has moved out from his labour camp accommodation to an apartment at International City. What is more, Sketchers also pay for his kits, his training, his events, and his travel.
“It’s a dream-come-true for me,” Ssenyange told XPRESS, fresh from finishing second in the Charleville Half Marathon in Ireland.
“When Sketchers offered me this job after seeing my story in XPRESS, it seemed too good to be true. I mean imagine me running in the shoes of the same company I am working for. I am so grateful to them for the opportunity they have given me. They really value what you are,” he added.
With his new job entailing him to promote a sports shoe brand, Ssenyange feels right at home. “All I need to do is run well and get the results and the brand gets promoted by itself. It’s been quite a revelation doing all the promotional work around an event,” he said.
Ssenyange is back in training as he prepares to defend his title at the Chennai Marathon on December 1. “That is my priority right now. Then I have the Houston half marathon coming up. Unfortunately, it’s just a week before the Dubai marathon which means I may only run the half marathon here. Fact is, the field at the Dubai marathon is world-class and my time is not yet there, maybe in another three years I will be able to match these guys,” he said.
The Ugandan is happy to inspire his fellow runners to follow in his footsteps. “I have kind of revolutionized the way people think about running here. Besides my fellow Dubai Creek Striders runners, there are others who have started taking their running seriously and believe that they too can make it big in international events,” he said.
So, how has he managed to take so much success in his stride?
“My friends are very happy for me and frankly I have not changed a bit. I still look at myself as the same security guy as before,” he said.