The above interview with legendary Ethiopian Athlete Mirutse Yifter was recorded sometime in 2012. He revealed himself- all the way from how he started as a runner to his prestigious Olympic and World championship titles.
Mirutse barely discussed about politics in the interview. But the politics of the past and the politics and challenges of the present inevitably lingered and somehow revealed. He seemed to have insinuated how athletics in Ethiopia,currently, is on the verge of collapse. Haile Gebreselassie would agree about an all time low state of performance of Ethiopian Athletics in international competitions and he, in fact, claims that it is the very reason that compelled him to decide to run for the president position of Ethiopian Athletics Federation.
Mirutse didn’t talk directly about the impact of ethnic politics in the Athletics Federation of Ethiopia but he somehow touched upon it by making a reference about language as an object of administrative challenges within the Federation.
As prestigious world class athlete as he is, and despite his significant contribution in making a name for Ethiopia in much the same way that athletes like Abebe Bikila did, he was not celebrated and accorded honor during his life time. In the year 2000 he had to leave Ethiopia behind to lead an exile life in Canada. In fact, during the military regime of colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, Mirutse was awarded a car and house in the capital.
In spite of all that, Mirutse was not bitter about Ethiopia and understood the root causes of it. While Tigrean ethnic identity is ostensibly pronounced as a means to power and privilege – in all its forms – for the past two decades, Mitutse didn’t dance to the tune and rather remained deeply loyal to Ethiopia. He passed away in Toronto and his body was flown to Ethiopia to be laid to rest alongside Ethiopian patriots at Selassie Menbere Tsebaot. Many Ethiopians seem to have known little about him except the fact that he won Olympic title for Ethiopia. They only learned about hims after his death.