RunBlogRun opines: The 10,000 meters at the Moscow Olympics was one of the toughest, most erracticly paced 25 lappers in the modern history of the event. Viren, Manienka, Yifter, Kedir, Foster, McLeod, were all there.
Miruts Yifter had taken bronze in the 10,000 meters in Munich. His country then boycotted Montreal, taking away a historic chance for the Ethiopian medalist to add to his Olympic medal count. In 1977, at the World Cup, he held off Marty Liquori, as both ran two of the fastest times over 5000 meters of that year. In 1979, at the next World Cup, Yifter won the 10,000m in a very tactical event.
Now, Yifter was dealing with a double Olympic champion with fine tactics, a fine kick and a fine pedigree in Olympic finals. Yifter took him on, and won, over 10,000 meters, with Viren in sixth. In the 5000 meters, Yifter also won, with Viren a DNF. While Yifter had finally defeated his nemesis from 1972, he did get the recognition he should have, like other Ethiopian athletes of his generation. (Remember Mamo Wolde? Mr. Wolde served nine years in Ethiopian prisons.)
Yifter was held in great respect by the next generations of Ethiopian runners and any global fan who understood the sport. Like Emil Zatopek, Miruts Yifter paid for his beliefs, imprisoned by the depraved and despotic Marxists who dictated life in Ethiopia, soon after his 1972 bronze, because the despots did not believe that Yifter tried hard enough to defeat Viren. After Yifter finished his racing, he moved to Canada in 1988.
His brilliant racing lives on YouTube, in an Olympics, that to most Americans, did not exist, as it was not broadcast in the U.S. Remember President Carter's ill-advised boycott of Moscow 1980?
Miruts Yifter died this past week, and Bob Ramsak, a long time writer for the IAAF and friend, wrote the following tribute for the IAAF. org site. We use , giving courtesy to the IAAF.