With Secretary of State John F. Kerry standing by his side, the men’s winner of the 2013 Boston Marathon said today he will return his medal to the city as a symbol of unity with victims of Marathon bombings. At an event at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Lelisa Desisa said he would give the medal back to the city when he returns to Massachusetts for a race in June, according to a Kerry aide.
“As a gesture of my solidarity with the victims of this senseless act of violence, I will return my medal to the people of Boston in honor and memory of those who suffered and those who died on that day, like 8-year-old Martin Richard,” Desisa said, according to the aide.
Speaking in Amharic, the local language, Desisa, an Ethiopian, told an audience at the embassy that “sport should always be a source of pleasure and enjoyment, healthy recreation, positive competition,” according to the aide.
“Sport holds the power to unify people and to connect people from all over the world with one another,” Desisa said.
After Desisa spoke, Kerry gave the runner a hug and called his gesture “absolutely extraordinary.”
Desisa finished the April 15 race in just over two hours and 10 minutes. Later in the afternoon, two bombs ripped through the crowd, killing three and injuring more than 260.
Also present at the ceremony in Ethiopia today were the 2013 Boston Marathon’s men’s third-place finisher and the women’s second-place finisher.
Kerry, a former Massachusetts Senator and the 2004 Democratic nominee for president, was in the Ethiopian capital for a summit marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the African Union.Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.