Mamo Wolde

Degaga "Mamo" Wolde (Oromo: Maammo Woldee, Amharic: ደጋጋ ("ማሞ") ወልዴ; June 12, 1932 – May 26, 2002) was an Ethiopian long distance runner who competed in track, cross-country, and road running events. He was the winner of the marathon at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Mamo Wolde
El etiope Mamo Wolde 'Gacela Negra' en el cross de Elgoibar - Fondo Marín-Kutxa Fototeka
Wolde in 1963
Personal information
Native nameማሞ ወልዴ
Birth nameDegaga Wolde
BornJune 12, 1932
Ada'a, Oromo
DiedMay 26, 2002 (aged 69)
Addis Ababa
Resting placeSaint Joseph's Church
8°58′11.57″N 38°46′1.51″E / 8.9698806°N 38.7670861°E
Height170 cm (5 ft 7 in)
Weight54 kg (119 lb)
10,000 metres

Early life

Degaga was born on 12 June 12, 1932 in Ada'a to an Oromo family.[1] His younger brother, Demissie Wolde (b. March 8, 1937), was also destined to become an international distance running star.

In 1951, Degaga moved to Addis Ababa.[2]

Athletics career

At his first Olympic appearance in 1956, Degaga competed in the 800 m, 1,500 m and the 4x400 relay.[3]

He didn't compete in the 1960 Summer Olympics, when Abebe Bikila became the first Ethiopian to win a gold medal. Degaga claimed his absence was due to the government's desire to send him on a peacekeeping mission to the Congo during the Congo Crisis. According to him, in the government's ensuing conflict with the Ethiopian Olympic Committee, who wanted him to compete, he didn't get sent to either event. However, athlete Said Moussa Osman, who represented Ethiopia in the 800 m at the 1960 Olympics, stated that Degaga lost at the trials and didn't make it on the team.[2]

Beginning in the 1960s, Degaga's focus changed from middle distance races to long distances. He made Ethiopia's first mark at international cross-country races when he took the International Juan Muguerza in Elgoibar, Spain, winning in 1963 and 1964, and at the Cross de San Donostin in San Sebastian, Spain, in the same years.[4] He placed fourth in the 10,000 m at the 1964 Summer Olympics, which was won by Billy Mills of the United States in one of the biggest upsets in the history of Olympic competition.[5] Demissie also became a marathon runner.

Both brothers competed in Tokyo, in the 1964 Olympic marathon. On August 3, 1964, in the Ethiopian Olympic trials, a race held at 8,000 feet, Degaga qualified by running 2:16:19.2, just 4/10ths of a second behind Abebe Bikela, with Demissie finishing 2:19:30, for 3rd place. Although Degaga dropped out early, Demessie, after being among the leaders for much of the 1964 Olympic race, finished tenth in 2:21:25.2.[6] On April 21, 1965, as part of the opening ceremonies for the second season of the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair, Abebe and Degaga participated in an exclusive ceremonial half marathon.[7] They ran from the Arsenal in Central Park at 64th Street & Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to the Singer Bowl at the fair.[8] They carried with them a parchment scroll with greetings from Haile Selassie.[9] In 1967, he repeated his wins in San Sebastian and Elgiobar, and won again at the latter event in 1968.[4]

In 1968 Summer Olympics, Degaga became the second Ethiopian to win gold in the marathon. Earlier in the same Olympics, he had won the silver medal in the 10,000 m.[10] At the age of 40, Degaga won his third Olympic medal placing third at the 1972 Olympic marathon, while Demissie placed 18th in 2:20:44.0.[11][3][12] Degaga also won the marathon race in the 1973 All-Africa Games. He blamed his Olympic third place showing in 1972 on ill-fitting shoes forced on him by Ethiopian officials.[2] He became only the second person in Olympic history (Bikila was the first) to medal in successive Olympic marathons. Both medalists who finished ahead of Degaga, Frank Shorter from the U.S.A., and Belgium's Karel Lismont would repeat Degaga's feat in 1976 as they finished second and third behind East Germany's Waldemar Cierpinski. Cierpinski repeated his win in 1980. Erick Wainaina was the most recent and only other marathoner to accomplish the feat, finished third in Atlanta in 1996 and second in Sydney in 2000. Degaga also won the marathon race in the 1973 All-Africa Games.

Military career

In 1951, Degaga joined the Imperial Guard. He later served as a peacekeeper in Korea from 1953 to 1955.[2]


In 1993, Degaga was arrested on the accusation that he participated in a Red Terror execution during the regime of the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam.[12] He argued that although he was present at the killing, he was not a direct participant.[13] The IOC campaigned the Ethiopian government for his release.[12] In early 2002 he was convicted and sentenced to six years of imprisonment. Therefore, he was released because he had spent nine years in detention already waiting for his trial.[12]


On May 26, 2002, Degaga died of liver cancer at age 69, just a few months after his release.[14][15] He had been married twice and had three children; a son with his first wife, Samuel, and two children, Addis Alem and Tabor, with his second wife.[1] Degaga is interred in Saint Joseph's Church Cemetery in Addis Ababa.[10]


  1. ^ a b Moore, Kenny (2005). "The Ordeal of Mamo Wolde". Honolulu Marathon Association. Archived from the original on January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Vettenniemi, Erkki (September 1, 2002). "The Life and Trials of Mamo Wolde". Runner's World. Archived from the original on January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Mamo Wolde". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  4. ^ a b Hutchinson, Andrew Boyd (January 2018). The Complete History of Cross-Country Running: From the Nineteenth Century to the Present Day. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. pp. 88–90. ISBN 978-1-631-44076-2.
  5. ^ Billy Mills, pride of a marine, heart of a warrior, Stars and Stripes, July 2, 1999, Sean Moore. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  6. ^ The Olympic Marathon, Human Kinetics, David E. Martin, Roger W. H. Gynn, 2000. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  7. ^ Phillips, Mccandlish (April 22, 1965). "Lo, a Magic City Awakens and Wizard Rejoices..." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 26, 2017. (Subscription required (help)).
  8. ^ Alden, Robert (April 4, 1965). "The Fair Resumes Today With Many New Exhibits..." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 26, 2017. (Subscription required (help)).
  9. ^ Jones, Theodore (April 4, 1965). "Ethiopia Marathon Star Here for Fair". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 26, 2017. (Subscription required (help)).
  10. ^ a b Goldstein, Richard (May 28, 2002). "Mamo Wolde, Olympic Marathon Champion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  11. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Demissie Wolde". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
  12. ^ a b c d Mason, Nick (June 7, 2002). "Mamo Wolde". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  13. ^ "The Life and Trials of Malmo Wolde". Runner's World. 2002-09-01. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  14. ^ Thurber, Jon (Jun 12, 2002). "Mamo Wolde; Won Olympic Gold, Bronze". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  15. ^ Moore, Kenny (January 1, 2004). "Chasing Justice". Runner's World. Archived from the original on January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2017.

External links

1965 All-Africa Games

The 1st All-Africa Games – Brazzaville 1965 was a multi-sport event played from July 18, 1965, to July 25, 1965, in Brazzaville, Congo.

The first games to open to the entire African continent occurred a full forty years after they were first intended. Pierre de Coubertin, had proposed the first African Games be held in Algiers, Algeria in 1925. The games were never organized. Four years later, Alexandria, Egypt had almost completed preparations for the African Games of 1929 when the colonial powers stepped in to cancel the games, weeks before they were to begin. The colonizers felt the games might serve to unite Africa, and help them break free from their colonial status. The idea of a continental games languished for a time until regional games in West Africa the early sixties paved the way for the first continental games to be held in July 1965.

Foreshadowing what was to become accepted protocol at major international games, and reflecting the continents relative political instability, the Congo-Brazzaville Army was on high alert throughout the games for "malcontents" and "counter-revolutionaries". All highways in and out of Brazzaville were patrolled by armored vehicles and all cars within the city, except for games participants and journalists, were stopped and inspected at major checkpoints.

2500 athletes from 29 nations marched in to the stadium. Avery Brundage, the IOC president attended the games as the IOC's chief observer.

The games success was due in a large part to the emerging African stars, such as Wilson Kiprugut Chuma (silver medalist in the Tokyo 800 meters), Mohammed Gammoudi (silver medalist Tokyo, 10,000 meters), and Kip Keino, Naftali Temu and Mamo Wolde, who would all win medals three years later at the Mexico City Olympic Games.

Men competed in ten sports, women just two; athletics and basketball.

The top medal winning nation was the United Arab Republic, at one time a political union of Egypt and Syria.*

(It is not yet known if any athletes from Syria competed or won medals in the African Games)

Abebe Bikila

Abebe Bikila (Amharic: አበበ ቢቂላ; August 7, 1932 – October 25, 1973) was an Ethiopian marathon runner. A double Olympic marathon champion, he won the first at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome while running barefoot, setting a world record. He is Africa's first world record breaking athlete in any sport and the first sub-Saharan African Olympic gold medallist. At the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Abebe became the first athlete to successfully defend an Olympic marathon title, breaking his own world record in the process. He was a member of the Ethiopian Imperial Guard, an elite infantry division that safeguarded the Emperor of Ethiopia. Enlisting as a soldier before his athletic career, he rose to the rank of shambel (captain). In Ethiopia, Abebe is formally known as Shambel Abebe Bikila (Amharic: ሻምበል አበበ ቢቂላ).

He was a pioneer in long-distance running. Mamo Wolde, Juma Ikangaa, Tegla Loroupe, Paul Tergat, and Haile Gebrselassie—all recipients of the New York Road Runners' Abebe Bikila Award—are a few of the athletes who have followed in his footsteps to establish East Africa as a force in long-distance running. Abebe participated in a total of sixteen marathons, winning twelve and finishing fifth in the 1963 Boston Marathon. In July 1967, he sustained the first of several sports-related leg injuries which prevented him from finishing his last two marathons.

On March 22, 1969, Abebe was paralysed as a result of a car accident. Although he regained some upper-body mobility, he never walked again. Abebe competed in archery and table tennis at the 1970 Stoke Mandeville Games in London, an early predecessor of the Paralympic Games, while receiving medical treatment in England. He competed in both sports at a 1971 competition for the disabled in Norway, and won its cross-country sleigh-riding event.

Abebe died at age 41 on October 25, 1973, of a cerebral hemorrhage related to his accident four years earlier. He received a state funeral, and Emperor Haile Selassie declared a national day of mourning. Many schools, venues and events, including Abebe Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa, are named after him. The subject of biographies and films documenting his athletic career, Abebe is often featured in publications about the marathon and the Olympics.

Athletics at the 1956 Summer Olympics – Men's 1500 metres

These are the official results of the Men's 1.500 metres at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, with the final held on Saturday, December 1, 1956. There were a total number of 37 participants from 22 nations. Among the non-qualifiers for the final were defending champion Josy Barthel, future silver medalist Michel Jazy and eventual marathon champion Mamo Wolde.

The final had twelve men toe the line. Uniquely, Murray Halberg used a sprinter's crouched start in lane 1 and sprinted into the lead from the gun. In future years, this kind of start would become forbidden in a long race. Halberg held that lead until there were two laps to go where he was passed in a rush by Mervyn Lincoln running in front of a home crowd. Lincoln held the lead until just after the bell when he was swallowed up by a rush led by Brian Hewson. Ten men went around Lincoln and he was cooked. Klaus Richtzenhain was the next to follow with Halberg making one more rush down the backstretch before he too was cooked. From tenth place, Ron Delany began picking off runners on the backstretch, as Halberg slowed, Delany used the traffic to step into fifth place at the start of the final turn. Passing in lane 2, Delany ran around the field, catching Hewson at the head of the straightaway. Hewson looked helplessly at Delany as he passed. Fighting out of the group Delany passed at the start of the turn, another home town favorite John Landy chased from behind, still in sixth at the head of the straight. With a stiff, upright sprinting style, Delany pulled away from the field. Hewson struggled down the final straight, watching Richtzenhain run past on the outside. Landy made a late final charge in lane 3 but just came up short in trying to catch Richtzenhain for silver.

Athletics at the 1964 Summer Olympics – Men's 10,000 metres

The men's 10,000 metres was the longest of the seven men's track races in the Athletics at the 1964 Summer Olympics program in Tokyo. It was held on 14 October. 38 athletes from 23 nations entered, with 6 more not starting the event. The event was held as a single heat.

Athletics at the 1968 Summer Olympics

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, 36 athletics events were contested, 24 for men and 12 for women. There were a total number of 1031 participating athletes from 93 countries.

These games were notable for a number of Olympic firsts and numerous world records. These included:

Dick Fosbury introduced the Fosbury Flop to the high Jump by jumping over backwards, whereas the prevailing methods involved jumping forwards or sideways.

The first African Gold Medallists in the 1500m and 3000m Steeplechase, as well as many other medals in middle and long distance events. Particularly symbolic of Africa's new found dominance was the victory by Kenyan athlete Kip Keino over American World Record Holder and hot favourite Jim Ryun in the 1500m final.

Bob Beamon broke Ralph Boston's 1965 and Igor Ter-Ovanesyan's 1967 World Record in the Men's Long Jump by 55 cm (22 in). This record was not broken until 1991. It remains the second best legal jump in history.

The World Record was broken in the Men's Triple Jump five times by three athletes, including the final jump of the event. The top five finishers all beat the previous world record.

The Black Power salute: Tommie Smith and John Carlos wore black gloves and bowed their heads on the medal podium after their medals in the 200m, sparking huge controversy.

Jim Hines became the first sprinter to officially break the 10-second barrier in the 100 metres.This was the first Olympics to use an all-weather track surface now used in every major international athletics competition.

Athletics at the 1968 Summer Olympics – Men's 10,000 metres

The official results of the Men's 10,000 metres Race at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico held on Sunday October 13, 1968. There were a total number of 37 competitors from 23 nations.The great rivalry between East African neighbors Ethiopia and Kenya. While Abebe Bikila had won the Marathon in the two previous Olympics to show Ethiopia's ability, this was Kenya's first ever gold medal, with Naftali Temu outsprinting leader Mamo Wolde on the home straight. Distance running has never been the same, with the two countries battling for virtually every major title since.

Athletics at the 1968 Summer Olympics – Men's marathon

The official results of the men's marathon at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico, held on Sunday October 20, 1968. The race started on 15.00h local time. There were a total number of 75 competitors from 41 countries. Eighteen of them did not finish.

Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza

The Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza, also known as the Elgoibar Cross Country, is an annual cross country running competition which takes place each January in Elgoibar, the Basque Country, Spain. It is named as a memorial of local runner Juan Muguerza, a multiple national champion who was killed in 1937 during the bombing of Mungia in the Spanish Civil War.The competition was first held in 1943 and was a men only contest, principally between national-level runners. This changed at the twentieth anniversary of the race in 1963, when the competition became an international one. Ethiopian runner Mamo Wolde was the first foreign winner and he went on to score three more victories that decade. His performances brought exposure for African runners in Spain and his influence was recognised with the erection of a memorial in his memory in 2003. Having been held every year since 1943, with the exception of cancellations in 1950 and 1981, the Cross Juan Muguerza is one of the longest-running competitions of its type in Spain.The men's race has typically been contested over distances varying from 9 km to 11 km, with the current race being 10.8 km. A women's short course race was trialled in the late 1960s and became a permanent fixture of the programme in 1972. Initially a two kilometre course, the distance was gradually increased over the lifespan of the competition, resulting in the current distance of 6.6 km. A men's junior race was held in addition to the main senior race in 1963. The current race programme comprises the two senior races and six different age categories for younger runners.The elite events attract the highest level of international runners, with past winners including IAAF World Cross Country Championships gold medallists Kenenisa Bekele, Paul Tergat, John Ngugi, Derartu Tulu and Edith Masai. The top runners of Spain and Portugal regularly compete at the competition. Among them, world medallists Mariano Haro and Carmen Valero won in Elgoibar in the 1970s, while prominent Portuguese athletes Paulo Guerra and Fernanda Ribeiro took the top honours in the 1990s.

Cross de San Sebastián

The Cross Internacional de San Sebastián, also known as the Cross Internacional de Donostia, is an annual cross country running event which is staged in late January in San Sebastián, Spain.

The competition was first held in 1956 as a men's only race and attracted top level runners from the outset, with Olympic gold medallists Emil Zátopek, Alain Mimoun and Mamo Wolde being among the winners in the first decade of the event. A women's race was introduced in 1971 and two-time World Cross champion Carmen Valero took a record four back-to-back wins soon after. From the 1970s to 1980s, a mix of Iberian and British athletes topped the podium, but since the 1990s the race has been dominated by runners of East African origin.The grassy course is relatively flat and the distances for the elite races are 10 km for men and 5.3 km for women. In addition to the professional races, there are also popular fun run races on the day's events programme; there are various age category races for children and youths, as well as a veteran's races for older runners.The Cross de San Sebastián has featured many of the world's most prominent names in long-distance running, including marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie, Olympic champions Derartu Tulu, John Ngugi and Rosa Mota, as well as world cross country champions such as Zersenay Tadese, Gebre Gebremariam and Benita Johnson. Among the Europeans to have topped the podium are former world record holders Carlos Lopes and David Bedford, as well as past European Cross champions Marta Domínguez, Paulo Guerra and Serhiy Lebid. The competition has also incorporated the regional Gipuzkoan cross country championships in previous editions.

Demissie Wolde

Demissie Wolde (born March 8, 1937) is an Ethiopian former marathon runner. He won the Košice Peace Marathon in 1969 in 2:15:37. He also competed in the 1964 Olympic marathon, having qualified by running 2:19:30 on August 3, for 3rd place, in the Ethiopian Olympic trials, a race held at 8,000 feet. After being among the leaders for much of the 1964 Olympic race, he finished tenth in 2:21:25.2. At the 1972 Summer Olympics, he placed 18th in 2:20:44.0 in the marathon. He is the younger brother of Mamo Wolde who dropped out of the race in 1964, won the Olympic Marathon in 1968, and who finished 3rd in 1972.

Ethiopia at the 1956 Summer Olympics

Ethiopia competed in the Olympic Games for the first time at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Twelve competitors, all men, took part in ten events in two sports.

Ethiopia at the 1968 Summer Olympics

Ethiopia competed at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. 18 competitors, all men, took part in 13 events in 3 sports.

Ethiopia at the 1972 Summer Olympics

Ethiopia competed at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany. 31 competitors, all men, took part in 20 events in 3 sports.

Ethiopia at the Olympics

Ethiopia first participated at the Olympic Games in 1956, and has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since then, except for the 1976, 1984 and 1988 Games. Ethiopia also participated in the Winter Olympic Games for the first time at the 2006 Games in Turin.

Ethiopian athletes have won a total of 54 medals, all in athletics.

Ethiopia's participation in the Olympics is organized by the Ethiopian Olympic Committee, founded in 1948 and recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1954.

Kenny Moore

Kenneth Clark Moore (born December 1, 1943) is an American athlete and journalist. At the University of Oregon, Moore was one of Bill Bowerman's finest distance runners. Moore a two time Olympian ran ran both the 1968 Mexico City and 1972 Munich Olympic marathon, finishing fourth in 1972.Moore won the largest footrace in the world, the San Francisco Bay to Breakers, six times in a row—the all-time leader in victories in the race. He also won the national titles in cross-country running in 1967 and in the marathon in 1971.After his track career, Moore became a journalist and screenwriter. He had a twenty-five-year career covering athletics for Sports Illustrated. At the end of his career at Sports Illustrated, Moore took up the plight of former competitor Mamo Wolde, who was falsely imprisoned in Ethiopia. In his story, Moore championed Wolde's release from prison, a release that came months before Wolde's death.

Moore was also one of the athletes who pushed for the Amateur Sports Act of 1978. He also helped to write the screenplay for the 1998 biopic Without Limits, a film about former Oregon Ducks standout Steve Prefontaine. Moore also had an acting role (as a water polo player) in the 1982 Robert Towne film Personal Best, starring Mariel Hemingway, Scott Glenn, and Patrice Donnelly.

Kenny Moore lives in Eugene, Oregon, and Hawaii. He has recently published a book about his former coach titled Bowerman and the Men of Oregon. He is also the author of Best Efforts: World Class Runners and Races (Doubleday 1982)

Leo Lang

Leo Lang (21 October 1919 – 25 January 2005) was a Croatian athletics coach and sports worker.

Lang entered athletics in 1939 as a long-distance runner for HAŠK. After World War II he worked as a coach in Akademičar and Dinamo athletic clubs. Lang coached the Yugoslav national athletics team, as well as individual athletes such as Joško Murat, Franjo Škrinjar, and, most notably, European 800 meters champion and world record holder Vera Nikolić. He also advised Kenyan and Ethiopian long-distance runners, among them Mamo Wolde and Kipchoge Keino.

Between 1973 and 1991 Lang worked at NK Dinamo Zagreb, serving as a marketing manager, business manager, and as the club's director.

List of flag bearers for Ethiopia at the Olympics

This is a list of flag bearers who have represented Ethiopia at the Olympics.Flag bearers carry the national flag of their country at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Marathons at the Olympics

The marathon at the Summer Olympics is the only road running event held at the multi-sport event. The men's marathon has been present on the Olympic athletics programme since 1896. Nearly ninety years later, the women's event was added to the programme at the 1984 Olympics.

Wolde (disambiguation)

Wolde is a municipality in the district of Demmin, in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

Wolde may also refer to:

People with name Wolde (meaning "Child of" in Ge'ez):

Abba Samuel Wolde Kahin (20th century), Ethiopian academic

Wolde Giyorgis Wolde Yohannes (1901-1976), Ethiopian politician

Wolde Harris (born 1974), Jamaican soccer striker

Wolde Selassie (circa 1745-1816), Ras of Ethiopia and warlord of Tigray

Mamo Wolde (1932-2002), Ethiopian long distance track and road running athlete

Million Wolde (born 1979), Ethiopian long-distance runner

Dawit Wolde (born 1991), Ethiopian middle-distance runner

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