p pol The Adventures of Carboman: The Ethiopian Running Heritage

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Ethiopian Running Heritage

From the chapter "A Time To Run"...

"So it was that Mamo Wolde came to be, a young runner inspired by Bikila who won the next Olympic marathon in Mexico City in 1968. Wolde, however, was a reluctant gold medallist. To collect his prize he needed to beat his hero Bikila. And for this quiet man born and raised in the small village of DreDele, such an act seemed blasphemous.

As the race progressed, Wolde was content to run behind Bikila for one of the lesser medals. The previous day he had won a silver medal in the 10,000 meters, so already his Olympics was a success. But as the American sportswriter, and also the fourteenth-place finisher in that 1968 Olympic marathon, Kenny Moore, later reported, Wolde had little to say about his fate over the course of that marathon run.. Moore writes "... Bikila was running hurt that day in Mexico City. After ten miles, he turned and beckoned to an ebony wraith of a teammate, Mamo Wolde, a fellow officer in Emperor Haile Selassie's palace guard. Wolde wove through the pack to Bikila's side.

"Lieutenant Wolde."
"Captain Bikila."
"I'm not finishing this race."
"Sorry, sir."
"But Lieutenant, you will win this race."
"Sir, yes sir."
"Don't let me down."

And Wolde, thinking some runners were out of sight ahead, took off. None was, but until the tape touches his chest, he couldn't be sure. He won relieved, by a masterful three minutes."


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