Endurance test for Ethiopia’s Olympic protester Feyisa Lilesa

by Selam

Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa making a Oromo protest gesture at the OlympicsImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

The “x” sign is used as a symbol of protest in Ethiopia

When Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa crossed the line to take a silver medal in Rio, it should have been the defining moment of his career.

His previous best moment had come when winning bronze at the 2011 World Athletics Championships in South Korea.

In Brazil on Sunday, he became the first Ethiopian to finish in the top two of a men’s Olympics marathon since 2000.

But the greatest sporting achievement of his life will forever be overshadowed by the political protest he made just yards before the finish line, and which Mr Feyisa carried on into his post-race celebrations and press conference.

Given that Rule 50 of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) bans political statements of any kind, there was the possibility that the 26-year-old would lose his medal.

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