Boston Marathon winner will donate medal to honor bombing victims


Lelisa Desisa of Ethi­o­pia won the men's division of the Boston Marathon on April 15. “As a gesture of my solidarity with the victims of this senseless act of violence, I will return to Boston and gift my medal to the people of Boston in honor and in memory for those who suffered and those who died on that day,” Desisa said Sunday. (CJ GUNTHER/European Pressphoto Agency)

The Ethio­pian winner of this year’s Boston Marathon said Sunday that he will donate his first-place medal to the people of Boston, telling visiting Secretary of State John F. Kerry that he wants to honor the dead and wounded from the finish-line bombing.

“Less than two hours after I crossed the finish line as this year’s champion, my joy turned to sorrow,” Lelisa Desisa said. “This day brought pain to many families and sorrow to many homes,” the 23-year-old novice marathoner added as he announced his plan to travel to Boston to return the medal.

Lelisa spoke in his native Oromiffa at a brief ceremony at the U.S. Embassy here, standing with Kerry and two other top Ethiopian competitors in this year’s Boston race. Kerry was in Ethiopia for an African Union summit.

“Sport should never be used as a battleground,” Lelisa said through a translator. He said that he and his team will return to Boston to run again next year “to show the world that our commitment to sport, our commitment to our freedom will be stronger than any act of violence.”

Lelisa won the April 15 marathon with a time of 2:10:22. A pair of explosions near the finish line killed three people and injured more than 200 others.

Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for The Washington Post.

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