After seeking and gaining asylum in Canada, Ethiopian runner Mesfin Hake is building a new life in Toronto, Canada.

By Kerry Gillespie (Toronto Star) |

They come from training camps in Kenya and Ethiopia to win marathons all over the world in impressively fast times. They often speak very little English, and few race spectators in North America, Europe and Asia know much about these winning runners.

Feyisa Lilesa started to change that for Ethiopian runners with his marathon performance at the Rio Olympics in August.

He won a silver medal for his country but instead of celebrating at the finish line, he crossed his arms above his head in a sign of protest. It was to show support for members of his Oromo tribe, who are suffering in Ethiopia, and it was a move that he said he’d probably be killed for if he went home. After Rio Olympics, he secured a temporary visa for the United States.

ALSO READ Ethiopia’s Hajin Tola Wins Mississauga CanKen 5K Race and Performed ‘Oromo Protest’ Gesture

Mesfin Hake, a distance runner who fled Ethiopia to seek asylum in Canada earlier this year, was watching his friend on television that day.

“It was perfect,” Mesfin Hake said of Feyisa Lilesa’s protest at the Olympics. “It’s making a difference. It’s attracting international media.”

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