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Oromia: Athletic Nation Report: The global icon of #OromoProtests Olympian Feyisa Lilesa (Fayyisaa Leellisa) wins the New York City 2017 Half Marathon. Mare Dibaba Wins the Lisbon City. March 19, 2017

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Feyisa Lilesa wins the  2017 United Airlines New York City Half Marathon while American Molly Huddle defended her women’s title.   

Feyisa Lilesa makes Oromo protests symbol after winning New York City half marathon.

      Running Magazine: Feyisa Lilesa                  continues to protest home government,    this time at NYC Half

 Feyisa Lilesa, who is now living in the United States following his performance at the Rio Olympics, won the United Airlines NYC Half on Sunday. Again, the Olympic marathon silver medallist, who is Ethiopian, crossed his wrists above his head, forming an “X,” in solidarity with the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. It’s not the first, or second, time that Lilesa has performed such a gesture.

RELATED: FULL recap: United Airlines NYC Half (including Canadian results).


 Excluding Sunday’s performance, Lilesa has on two previous notable occasions performed what is part of the Oromo protests since the Olympics including at the Honolulu Marathon and the Houston Half-Marathon. The 27-year-old did not return to Ethiopia after the Olympics fearing for his life because of the finish line act. The long-distance specialist is currently residing in Flagstaff, Ariz. with his family recently relocating to the United States on Valentine’s Day.

According to CNN, there have been protests across Ethiopia “since April of 2014 against systematic marginalization and persecution of ethnic Oromos.” The protests can be sourced to the territorial limits of the capital city Addis Ababa extending into neighboring Oromo villages displacing residents. In 2016, Ethiopian security forces “killed hundreds and detained tens of thousands of protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions,” according to Human Rights Watch. The government told Lilesa that it would be safe to return home.

As seen a recent feature in the New York Times, Lilesa has received a green card as a permanent resident in the United States “for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and sports.” Lilesa’s finish line protests have led other runners, including several in Canada, to cross their wrists above their head at the finish line of races.


On Sunday, Lilesa and Scotland’s Callum Hawkins were side-by-side entering the finishing stretch towards Wall Street. Lilesa won by four seconds in 1:00:04, his first victory since the 2016 Tokyo Marathon. In the women’s race, there was also a tight finish as American Molly Huddle completed the NYC Half three-peat bettering Emily Sisson in 1:08:19 to 1:08:21. The two are training partners and reside in Providence, R.I. (Huddle is married to former Canadian middle-distance specialist Kurt Benninger.)

““I never would have thought I could come back here and win three times,” Huddle said in a New York Road Runners (NYRR) release. “I remember the first win was such a surprise for me, and last year we ran so fast. I just feel really lucky to have won a third time. Every time is really difficult with an international field. New York Road Runners brings in some of the best of the best. Some people are in marathon buildups but some people were really gearing up for this race. I feel like it was a really cool win, and just contributes to my enthusiasm for New York.”

Rachel Cliff (1:12:07) for eighth and Eric Gillis (1:03:49) in 16th were the top Canadians in the race that featured more than 20,000 runners.


Running Magazine: Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon winner protests in support of Oromo people October 16, 2016

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VIDEO: Toronto Waterfront Half winner protests in support of Oromo people
Ethiopian Kindi Asefa won the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon on Sunday and performed a political protest as he crossed the finish line.

October 16th, 2016 by Tim Huebsch,  Running News, Running videos


The string of protests against the Ethiopian government among Canada-based runners continued on Sunday as Kindi Asefa crossed his arms above his head at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The Toronto Olympic Club athlete won the half-marathon in 1:08:34 and made an “X” above his head– a gesture in solidarity with the Oromo people.

The Oromo protests gained international attention at the Rio Olympics when Feyisa Lilesa famously crossed the finish line in second place in the men’s marathon while performing the protest. The Oromo people cross their arms above their head to imitate being handcuffed.


Lilesa is currently in the United States with a special skills visa and did not return home to Ethiopia because he feared for his life.

RELATED: Quebec City Marathon winner Ebisa Ejigu replicates Olympic medallist’s political protest.

According to Human Rights Watch, as many as 500 people have been killed in the protests between November 2015 and June 2016. The protests are occurring because the Ethiopian government is extending the capital city’s municipal boundary which is forcing the Oromo people away from their homes.

The boundary is extending into Oromia, home to much of the country’s Oromo people. The Oromo people are the largest ethnicity in the Horn of Africa. The Oromo people, according to BBC News, claim that the government is oppressive and that they have been marginalized.

After Lilesa’s political protest at the Olympics, Ebisa Ejigu made the gesture at the Quebec City Marathon. Soon after, Hajin Tola made an “X” with his arms at the CanKen 5K road race in Mississauga, Ont. Asefa, along with Tola and Ejigu, all train with the Toronto Olympic Club.

RELATED: Winner of Mississauga CanKen 5K race protests in support of Ethiopia’s Oromo people.

On Sunday, Asefa won by 10 seconds over Matthew McNeil. Erin McClure was the top woman in 1:20:40.