Tulu, Derartu (1972—)

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Tulu, Derartu (1972—)

Ethiopian runner. Born in Ethiopia on January 1, 1972.

Derartu Tulu became the first black African woman to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games when she won the 10,000-meter event at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain. On the final lap of the race, she passed Elana Meyer , a white woman who was running for South Africa, a nation that had been banned from participation in the Olympics for 32 years because of its policy of racial apartheid. Tulu passed Meyer, winning wild cheers from the 60,000 spectators, but on the final lap of honor after the race, both women ran together, with Meyer holding Tulu's arm high. "We both ran for Africa," Meyer said. "I think we did that very well."

That year, 1992, was an incredible one for Tulu. Her winning time at the Olympics set a new African record. A few weeks before the Olympics, at the African Games, Tulu had won the 3,000 meters and 10,000 meters. Two months after winning in the Olympics, she competed at the World Cup in Havana, Cuba, where she became the first female distance runner to win two races: the 3,000 meters and the 10,000 meters. In that same year, she ran in only one road race, the Bob Hasan 10K in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, but she came in first in that race against a field of top women runners. For her performance in 1992, she received the Runner of the Year award.

Kelly Winters , freelance writer