Double Olympic gold medalist, an Ethiopian national icon and of the finest athletes to grace the running track Miruts Yifter has passed away at 72.
Officials at the Bridgepoint Hospital in Toronto, Canada where he had been hospitalized confirmed with Ethiosports that the man endeared to millions of sports enthusiasts and dubbed Yifter “the shifter” by journalists, took a turn for the worse health wise and died, Thursday, December 22 2016, several hours ago.
The effects of having suffered a collapsed lung were compounded by his old age. Miruts had been hospitalized for nearly a year, but was recently said to have been making progress in his recovery effort. But after having fought admirably, exhibiting the same resistance and endurance that made him a household name in international sport back in the seventies and eighties, Miruts has succumbed to illness.
Miruts Yifter won two gold medals in the 5000m and 10,000m races at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. This came some eight years after having won a bronze medal in his beloved long distance running discipline at the 1972 Munich games. He mesmerized the world with his ability to explode past the pack towards the dying stages of a race. He was undefeatable at an age considered way past his peak, his late thirties and forties. His numerous accolades, unforgivable punishing running style and longevity, his ability to maintain world class fitness for so long has earned him recognition as one of the greatest athletes to have graced the Olympic track venue.
In Ethiopia, he was idolized, a hero of the people. His heroics inspired a generation of runners to follow in his footsteps. He contributed the lion’s share to establishing the Ethiopian long distance running dynasty that has made athletes from the country among the most feared competitors in the world. The likes of Haile Gebreselassie and Derartu Tulu have previously named Miruts Yifter as their inspiration and guiding light.
The Ethiosports team would like to wish his family, friends and millions of admirers around the world strength, and courage in dealing with the loss of a beloved personality, known for his humble demeanor and sense of humor. The death of Miruts Yifter will be cause for shock and great sadness all across Ethiopia. Despite Miruts no longer being with us, it is a great source of consolation to know that his achievements continue to inspire, uplift and motivate tomorrow’s Olympic champions.
Miruts Yifter will forever remain a source of pride and joy for generations to come. Ethiopians will forever recall the hoisting of their flag atop the world after his unstoppable dash across the finish line. History will be even kinder, as his finishes, medals, trophies and honors won at venues around the globe will forever testify to his greatness. Forever enshrined and immortalized, Miruts leaves us with the legacy of a champion.
Details over funeral arrangements aren’t known yet, but we will be following developments and will keep you posted.
May Miruts Yifter rest in eternal peace.