Friday, May 18, 2007

The Ageless Distance Runner

Care to guess who that might be??
When I wrote the last entry on May 15 , about May 15, I did not know that date was also Miruts "Yifter the Shifter" birthday. Supposedly it was his 63rd birthday, but it is not known for sure, and he is not telling. Instead, Miruts gives a great quote:

"Men may steal my chickens; men may steal my sheep. But no man can steal my age."

Most people remember Miruts for his double gold medal at 5000M and 10000M at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. But he also won a bronze medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics, eight years before achieving stardom in Moscow. He was also supposed to compete in the 5000M in Munich, but he is said to have missed the race due to confusion created by poor communication. Of course, he did not compete in the 1976 Montreal Olympics because of Ethiopia's boycott, which may have robbed him of a unique distinction of winning a double-double: 5000M/10000M victory in back-to-back Olympics, which Lasse Viren of Finland managed to achieve in Munich and Montreal, in Miruts' absence.

Here is a summary of Miruts' career as presented by the Olympic Movement. There is also a must watch vintage video of Miruts (with great afro and all) running in the 5000/10000 in Moscow alongside of the great Mohammed Kedir, who sacrificed himself for Miruts in the 5000, and Tolossa Kotu, who is currently an Assistant Coach of the Ethiopian National Team.

If you are interested to read more about Miruts, including his life in the recent past, check out this article from 2004.