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Feyisa Lilesa Has 'No Regrets,' Will Race Houston Half Marathon

Feyisa Lilesa Has 'No Regrets,' Will Race Houston Half Marathon
Photo: © Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Marathon Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa is running the Houston Half Marathon next weekend, when he will compete against bronze medalist Galen Rupp for the first time since Rio. An Ethiopia native, Lilesa has been living in the United States since the Rio Olympic Games, where he crossed his arms in a protest gesture against the treatment of his Oromo people in his home country.

Lilesa recently told the BBC that he has "no regrets," in the Olympic aftermath, however.

"I have no regret, I was successful and I brought to light the Oromo people and the Oromo protest," Lilesa told Julian Keane of the BBC.

"I really miss my family, I miss my wife, I miss my children. But at the same time, this difficulty is not more than what the Oromo people face. A lot of Oromo people have lost permanently their children and their family."

Lilesa told the BBC that his wife said that if he returns to Ethiopia, he may get killed.

"I love her, and she loves me, so we'll overcome this one day," Lilesa said.

Lilesa remained in Rio after the Olympic Games concluded, then stopped in Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis, where Sarah Barker met with Lilesa one-on-one. He has since settled in Flagstaff, Arizona.

"The Ethiopian government has many faces," Lilesa told Barker in September. "Nothing has happened to my family yet, because if they [Ethiopian government] do something right now, it would expose their dirty face. Everyone is watching right now, so the Ethiopian government is showing their good face, their smiling face--but they're waiting."

Lilesa most recently finished fourth in the Honolulu Marathon in 2:15:57. He holds a 59:22 half-marathon personal best from Houston in 2012, when he finished first.

"Since my wish and my hope is one day to go back to my country, I will remain in [the United States] as long as my visa allows and permits me to stay here," Lilesa said in the BBC interview. "I have a valid visa to stay, I have no problem. I have no other intention to ask asylum."
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