Updated Tuesday, December 27th, 2016
Olympic champion’s body will be sent back to Ethiopia this week
Miruts Yifter, an Ethiopian running legend dubbed “Yifter the Shifter” for his ability to power away from rivals, was laid to rest at a packed funeral in Toronto on Tuesday.
Yifter, a distance runner who won two gold medals in the 5,000- and 10,000-metre events at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and won bronze medals earlier at the 1972 Munich Games, died at 72 after battling respiratory problems.
“He’s a national icon,” said Yonas Tadssa, a friend of Yifter’s who also hails from Ethiopia.
“He’s our hero.”
Miruts Yifter. (Getty Images)
The IAAF is saddened by the news that Miruts Yifter, a double Olympic champion for Ethiopia at the 1980 Olympic Games, died yesterday (December 22) in Toronto, Canada, after being hospitalised for respiratory ailments. Yifter, considered by many as one of the greatest middle distance runners of all-time, was 72.
Yifter’s crowning achievement was his 5,000 and 10,000m double triumph at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow at age 40, where he earned the nickname “Yifter the Shifter” for the rapid injections of speed that helped propel him to victory. In both contests, Yifter surged and slowed to confuse his key opponents. The tactic worked.
“We talked about it with the coaches and I practiced taking off with 300 metres to go in both the 5000 and 10,000m races,” he recalled for a 2004 story on the IAAF website.
“300 metres is the ideal mark – not too late, not too early. I listened to the movements of my opponents until five laps remained and then decided on my course of action. The tension start building at the bell, but before they could reassert themselves, I make my move.”
Miruts Yifter in the 10,000m final at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. His family announced on Friday that the legendary Ethiopian athlete has died at age 72. (AP)
The Associated Press
By Elias Meseret
Dec 23, 2016
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Miruts Yifter, an Ethiopian running legend who inspired world-class athletes like Haile Gebreselassie, has died in Canada at age 72, his family and Ethiopian Athletics Federation officials told the Associated Press on Friday.
The athlete known widely by the nickname “Miruts the Shifter” won two gold medals at the 1980 Moscow Olympics at age 40 and won bronze medals earlier at the 1972 Munich Games.
“Miruts has been everything to me and my athletics career,” said Haile Gebreselassie, the double Olympic 10,000-meter champion, who struggled with his tears while talking to the AP by phone. “When I started running, I just wanted to be like him. He is the reason for who I’m now and for what I have achieved.”
Miruts’ son, Biniam Miruts, said his father had been suffering from respiratory problems.