Derartu Tulu is perhaps greatest female athlete in Ethiopian history, and first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Her dramatic victory in the women’s 10,000m at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and subsequent gesture of sportsmanship afterwards became one of the most poignant moments in Olympic history.
Tulu was trailing Elana Meyer of South Africa for much of the race before seizing the lead for good in the last lap to win by five seconds. Afterwards, Tulu invited Meyer, who is white, to join her in her victory lap to symbolize the end of apartheid.
Tulu finished fourth in the same event in Atlanta and missed out on a podium finish, but regained her title in 2000 in Sydney, by which time she was already a mother of two. She closed out her Olympic career with a bronze in Athens in 2004.
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