A 48-year-old double Olympic gold medalist has announced he is joining the Ethiopian military to fight in the country's civil war

A 48-year-old double Olympic gold medalist has announced he is joining the Ethiopian military to fight in the country's civil war
Haile Gebrselassie.Getty/Minasse Wondimu Hailu
  • Haile Gebrselassie is enlisting in the Ethiopian military to fight in his country's civil war.
  • The legendary long-distance runner, who won two Olympic golds, announced he will join on Wednesday.

Haile Gebrselassie, the legendary Ethiopian long-distance runner, has announced he is enlisting in the military to fight in his country's escalating civil war.

The announcement comes after Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, said he would go to the front line to lead the war.

48-year-old Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, told state media, per The Times of England, that he was joining up on Wednesday.

"I am ready to do whatever is required of me, including going to the front line," he said.

In an interview with Reuters, he added: "You expect me to say until death? Yes, that is the ultimate price in a war," he said.


"There is no way that I can sit here due to fear because it will come to my door. It will come to my house. We wouldn't know when it comes. We wouldn't know who will do what."

The Ethiopian Civil War started in the country's Tigray in November last year after tensions between the federal government and rebels in the area erupted into violence.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) had been the dominant party in Ethiopia's multiparty government for 27 years until April 2018 when Abiy became prime minister.

After relations broke down with Abiy over the new leader's reforms, the group launched a rebellion, reports the BBC.

The year-long conflict has killed thousands of people and forced over two million people from their homes, reports Reuters.


The United Nations estimates that 400,000 people are also at risk of famine in the region.

With rebels' now advancing towards the capital, Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency and called on citizens to join the armed forces, reports The Times.

The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Switzerland have now all called on their citizens to leave the country.

On top of two Olympic golds, Gebrselassie won eight world championship titles and set 27 world records during a glistening career that spanned a quarter of a century.

He is widely considered one of the greatest long-distance runners in history.