Ethiopian winner of Boston marathon sad

2013-05-26 18:53
Lelisa Desisa (AFP)

Lelisa Desisa (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - The Ethiopian winner of the Boston marathon who crossed the finish line just hours before it was attacked pledged on Sunday to return next year, saying "sport should never be a battleground".

Lelisa Desisa, 23, also told staff from the US embassy at a ceremony attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry that he would donate his winning medal back to the people of Boston as a gesture of solidarity.

He spoke of how his joy swiftly turned to sorrow after crossing the finish line on 15 April - in only the second marathon he ever competed in - when he "learned the tragic news of the death and the injury of so many innocent people".

"This day brought pain to many families, tremendous sorrow to many homes," he said after about 100 staff and family members at the US embassy in Addis Ababa held a moment's silence for the victims.

Three people were killed and dozens wounded when two bombs packed into pressure cookers exploded among the crowds gathered by the finish line.

Two brothers, 19-year-old Dzhokhar and 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, are accused of being behind the 15 April attack that also wounded more than 260 people.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shoot out with police, and Dzhokhar was captured and taken into custody after an extensive manhunt.

Common humanity

"As a gesture of my solidarity with the victims of this senseless act of violence, I will return to Boston and gift my medal to the people of Boston in honour and in memory for those who suffered and those who died on that day, like eight-year-old Martin Richards," Lelisa said, speaking through an interpreter.

"Sport should never be used as a battleground," he added, saying it held "the power to unify people... allowing them the opportunity to share in their common humanity and to celebrate the richness of our world's cultural diversity".

On behalf of his team, he added: "We promise that next year in 2014 we will return to Boston to show the world that our commitment to sport, our commitment to our freedom, is stronger than any act of violence."

"I don't have the words to express all that is in my heart. But with love and respect I thank you."

Kerry, who was meeting staff at the end of a two-day visit to Ethiopia to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the African Union, thanked Lelisa for his "extraordinary" gesture.

On Saturday, thousands of runners and their supporters took to the streets of Boston to complete the marathon after many were forced to abandon the race because of the attack.

Read more on:    john kerry  |  ethiopia  |  us  |  security  |  boston explosions

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.