Olympic marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa finished second at the Houston Half-Marathon on January 15, 2017, with a time of 61:14 – only a fraction of a second behind the front runner Leonard Korir. The thrilling battle between Lilesa and Korir at the finish line is captured below.
Feyisa Lilesa had, once again, shown the #OromoProtests symbol of “X” (crossing the hands over the head) as he crossed the finish line in Houston. This symbol of the #OromoProtests has been officially deemed illegal by the Ethiopian government since the declaration of the six-month State of Emergency on October 9, 2016 – a week after the Bishoftu Massacre, where hundreds of Oromos were murdered by the Ethiopian army during the UNESCO-recognized Irreecha Oromo cultural and religious festival.
After the race, during a reception thrown by the local community in Houston to honor him, Feyisa Lilesa spoke with Seife-Nebelbal, an online Oromo radio broadcast in Amharic, about his continued use of the symbol of the #OromoProtests at the finish line; Lilesa said he would continue to protest until freedom and democracy dawn in Ethiopia. Below are the interview and some photos from the reception (courtesy of journalist Ebba Abbamurti from the Lone Star State).
Photos from the reception thrown in Houston in honor of athlete Feyisa Lilesa:
The thrilling finish-line battle between Lilesa and Korir:
Photo: Marie D. De Jesus, Staff
He’s the loneliest of long-distance runners, a man far removed from his country and his family. These days, Feyisa Lilesa runs not for personal glory but for emotional therapy and for a purpose he believes to be far bigger than himself.