Ethiopia’s Hajin Tola won the inaugural CanKen 5K road race in Mississauga, Ont. on Sunday and performed a political protest by crossing his wrists to form an “X.”

By Tim Huebsch (Canadian Running Magazine) |

The inaugural CanKen 5K road race was held on Sunday in Mississauga, Ont. in an effort to strengthen Kenya-Canada relations through sport, business and community. The 5K was dominated by the Toronto Olympic Club as the event attracted some of southern Ontario’s top talent featuring Kenyan and Ethiopian teams.

At the front of the pack, Ethiopian Hajin Tola won in 14:45 and performed a political gesture crossing his wrists above his head in an “X,” done in solidarity with the Oromo people in his home country. The protest is the fourth such notable act by an Ethiopian at a race in the past month.

How the protests got started

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa was the first to make headlines in August when he performed the protest in Rio in the men’s marathon. He feared for his life following the race as the protest was directed at the Ethiopian government.

The protests are being done in response to the government’s displacing of Oromo people outside of Addis Ababa as the municipal boundary of the capital city is extended into neighboring areas.

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