Under Armour have announced that NCAA Champion Weini Kelati has joined their the UA Run roster.
Kelati moved from Eritrea to the United States in 2014 when she traveled to Eugene, Oregon to compete in the Junior World Championships, and never turned back.
Without telling her friends or family, she intentionally missed her flight back home to begin a new life in the United States, with dreams of gold medals and a better future. Weini’s determination, resilience, and love for the sport make her a perfect fit for Under Armour.
FROM SMALL-TOWN ERITREA TO THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITY
Weini grew up in a small, rural town in Eritrea, where farming was one of the few career opportunities ahead for her. However, she always strived for perfection, from getting a job at a young age to pay for her own clothes and school supplies, to working hard in school to make her mom proud.
When her PE teacher suggested she began running instead of walking to school each day, in order to shave off an hour of her commute, the start of her running career began.
As with school and work, Weini was committed to giving running everything she had. She would wake up at three in the morning to run more miles before school, and would walk five hours to neighboring towns to compete in races.
Her hard work and natural talent quickly became apparent as she won more and more races, finishing ahead of older runners who had been training seriously for years.
After competing in the National Championships, she was selected to represent Eritrea in the Junior World Championships, a trip that would completely change her life.
FINDING HER SPOT ON THE MAP, 7,800 MILES FROM HOME IN ERITREA
When Weini set foot in the United States to compete in the Junior World Championships, she had already made up her mind that she wasn’t returning home.
She hadn’t told a single person, not even her mom or her siblings. Although she was sad to leave her family behind, she knew this was a pivotal moment for staying stateside and her chance for the future she’d imagined.
“I was just a little girl who had big dreams,” says Weini. “I’ve always been independent and wanted to accomplish something.”
After her race, Weini contacted a relative in Virginia, who welcomed her into their home. She enrolled in Heritage High School in Leesburg, Virginia and joined the cross country team.
A year later, she was the 2015 Footlocker National Cross Country Champion and helped her team win a state title. Weini went on to compete for the University of New Mexico, where she became the most decorated Track & Field athlete in program history with 13 All-American honors.
She graduated with four school records, and in 2019, finished her collegiate career as the NCAA Champion in the 10,000 meters.
FINDING THE DREAM TEAM IN FLAGSTAFF
In college, Weini received an Under Armour backpack as a race prize, and recognized the logo because her cousin was a huge fan of UA athlete and NBA star, Stephen Curry.
When she graduated, she was drawn to Under Armour because of her family’s affinity for the brand through this connection. Her desire to run for UA only grew once she finally immersed herself with the brand’s pro run team.
Weini will be joining Under Armour’s Dark Sky Distance team, the brand’s newest elite training group based in Flagstaff, AZ. Weini felt as though she found her family away from home after meeting her teammates.
Team Dark Sky Distance offers the dynamic experience she was seeking with training partners and coaches that will help push her to her maximum potential.
The team embodies UA’s mission to make athletes better.“I’m fit and ready. Ready to put the track spikes and racing gear on, and fire it up.”
Dark Sky Distance coach Stephen Haas is confident in Weini’s future, “we want to put her in the position to run fast and compete at the highest level and get her into good racing all over the world.”
Weini will make her debut with Under Armour and Dark Sky this Saturday, December 5, competing in the 10,000m at the Sound Running Track Meet in Orange County.
Follow Weini’s journey via Dark Sky Distance on Instagram at @dark_sky_distance.