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Ethiopia at the Olympics

 

Excellence in long-distance running is a quality Ethiopia is known for around the world. The reputation started back in the days of Abebe Bikilla, who, in September 1960, stunned the world by winning the Olympic marathon setting a world and Olympic record of two hours, 15 minutes and 16.2 seconds after running the entire race barefoot on the streets of Rome.


It was the first ever marathon gold medal won by an African. The victory marked a great moment for Ethiopia and running became not only a national sport but also a national obsession in every corner of the country.

 

With the whole country and arguably the world behind him as the favourite to win, Abebe went to the subsequent Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 to defend his marathon title – this time wearing shoes (Puma runners to be exact).

 

Not only did he win the marathon again, he also won it by smashing his own Olympics record that he set in Rome to also become the first athlete in the world to win back-to-back Olympic marathon titles.

 

Abebe ran three minutes and 2.8 seconds faster in Tokyo than he did in Rome and his time was recorded at 2 hours, 12 minutes and 11.2 seconds.


His successive marathon victories made Ethiopia synonymous with athletics greatness and he single-headedly raised the country's profile to a new level.


Wherever in the world Ethiopians set foot, they get instant recognition as compatriots of Abebe Bikilla – the great marathon runner who, in Rome, endured more than 42 kilometres of running without wearing shoes to claim victory setting a new Olympic and world record.


Abebe inspired generations of Ethiopian athletes and his story was just the beginning of many more stories of many more victories to follow.


Ethiopia has indeed produced countless great athletes since Abebe and names such as Mamo Wolde, Miruts Yifter, Abebe Mekonen, Belayneh Densamo, Derartu Tulu, Haile Gebreselassie, Fatuma Roba, Gezahgne Abera, Tirunesh Dibaba, Tiki Gelana and Kenenissa Bekele are household names associated with internationally acclaimed athletics abilities and victories.

 

 

Haile Gebreselassie alone has broken 25 world records, won two Olympic 10,000m gold medals and claimed another four World 10,000m titles and is considered one of the greatest long distance runners in the world.

 

Most notable of Haile Gebreselassie’s recent achievements is his record-breaking win of the Berlin Marathon in 2007.

 

In this marathon event, Haile Gebrselassie set a new world record time of 2 hours, 4 minutes and 26 seconds, an improvement of 21 minutes and 13 seconds since 1947.

 

That victory has made Haile Gebrselassie the fastest marathon runner in the world to date.

 

 

Here are details of all the athletes that won medals at the Olympic Games since 1960


Olympic Year Athlete Race Event Medal Won Finish Time

London 2012


Tirunesh Dibaba Women's 10,000m Gold 30:20.75

Tiki Gelana Women's Marathon Gold 2:23:07 OR

Meseret Defar Women's 5000m Gold 15:04.25

Dejen Gebremeskel Men's 5000m Silver 13:41.98

Tariku Bekele Men's 10,000m Bronze 27:31.43

Sofia Assefa Women's 3000m Steeplechase Bronze 9:09.84

Tirunesh Dibaba Women's 5000m Bronze 15:05.15

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 24th in the world

Beijing 2008


Tirunesh Dibaba Women's 10,000m Gold 29:54.66

Kenenisa Bekele Men's 10,000m Gold 27:01.17 OR

Sileshi Sihine Men's 10,000m Silver 27:02.77

Tirunesh Dibaba Women's 5000m Gold 15:41.40

Meseret Defar Women's 5000m Bronze 15:44.12

Kenenisa Bekele Men's 5000m Gold 12:57.82

Tsegaye Kebede Men's Marathon Bronze 2:10.00

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 18th in the world

Athens 2004

Kenenisa Bekele Men's 10,000m Gold 27:05.10

Meseret Defar Women's 5000m Gold 14:45.65

Kenenisa Bekele Women's 5000m Silver 13:14.19

Sileshi Sihine Men's 10,000m Silver 27:09.39

Ejagayehu Dibaba Women's 10,000m Silver 30:24.98

Tirunesh Dibaba Women's 5000m Bronze 14:51.83

Derartu Tulu Women's 10,000m Bronze 30:26.42

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 28th in the world

Sydney 2000

Million Wolde Men's 5000m Gold 13:35.49

Haile Gebrselassie Men's 10,000m Gold 27:18.20

Gezahgne Abera Men's Marathon Gold 2:10.11

Derartu Tulu Women's 10,000m Gold 30:17.49 OR

Gete Wami Women's 10,000m Silver 30:22.48

Assefa Mezgebu Men's 10,000m Bronze 27:19.75

Tesfaye Tola Men's Marathon Bronze 2:11.10

Gete Wami Women's 5000m Bronze 14:42.23

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 20th in the world

Atlanta 1996


Haile Gebrselassie Men's 10,000m Gold 27:07.34 OR

Fatuma Roba Women's Marathon Gold 2:26.05

Gete Wami Women's 10,000m Bronze 31:06.65

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 34th in the world

Barcelona 1992

Derartu Tulu Women's 10,000m Gold 31:06.02

Fita Bayisa Men's 5000m Bronze 13:13.03

Addis Abebe Men's 10,000m Bronze 28:00.07

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 33rd in the world

Moscow 1980


Miruts Yifter Men's 5000m Gold 13:20.91

Miruts Yifter Men's 10,000m Gold 27:42.69

Mohamed Kedir Men's 10,000m Bronze 27:44.64

Eshetu Tura Men's 3000m Steeplechase Bronze 8:13.57

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 17th in the world

Munich 1972


Miruts Yifter Men's 10,000m Bronze 27:40.96

Mamo Wolde Men's Marathon Bronze 2:15.08.4

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 41st in the world

Mexico City 1968


Mamo Wolde Men's Marathon Gold 2:20.27

Mamo Wolde Men's 10,000m Gold 29:27.75

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 25th in the world

Tokyo 1964



Abebe Bikila Men's Marathon Gold 2:12.11.2 OR

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 24th in the world

Rome 1960




Abebe Bikila Men's Marathon Gold 2:15.16.2 OR

Ethiopia finished the Games ranking 21st in the world

Total medals won at the Olympics: 45
22 Gold 6 Silver 17 Bronze