Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and President Sahlework Zewde attended a state dinner celebrating Ethiopian athletes, coaches, and officials that participated in the 43rd edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. The athletes returned victoriously with 5 gold, 3 silver, and 3 bronze medals, and taking first place among 63 countries. PM Abiy Ahmed awarded the leadership of the committee and high performing athletes with certificates of recognition and financial rewards.
PM Abiy also honored the renowned athlete Feyisa Lelisa in a special category for his silver medal victory at the Rio 2016 marathon. The 29-year-old became a symbol of resistance. Ethiopians credited him with advancing the struggle of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group by crossing his hands above his head as a sign of protest. Lilesa had been living in exile in the United States in Flagstaff, Arizona, since 2016 in fear of his safety and returned to Ethiopia in October 2018.
In his closing remarks, the Prime Minister addressed that everyone should learn from the athletes’ relentless hard work and harmonious teamwork to tackle the challenges Ethiopia is facing today. He concluded his speech with a reminder to the recent cleaning campaign.