Derartu Tulu was born in 𝗕𝗼𝗸𝗼𝗷𝗶, Oromia. She began to stand out in races organised at her school, and she quickly expanded her focus to a national level.
In 1989, she participated in the World Cross Country Championships in Stavanger (Norway), where she finished 23rd. A few years later, in the 1992 edition held in Amberes, she won the silver medal, becoming the first African woman to win a medal in these championships.
In 1991, she participated in the Tokyo World Championship, her first major competition, where she finished eighth in the 10,000 metres. The following year, she earned her crowning at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games when she won the gold medal in the 10,000 metres, becoming the first Sub-Saharan African woman to win an Olympic gold medal.
A knee injury kept her away from competition until 1995, when she was proclaimed the cross country world champion in Durham, England.
In 2000, she participated in the Sydney Olympic Games, where she earned the god medal while achieving her best personal time and setting a new Olympic record of 30:17:49. The following year, she was the winner of the London Marathon, and then won her first world title in 10,000 metres at the Edmonton World Championship, what was practically the only achievement remaining for her to win.
At the age of 32, without anyone believing in her, she dared to participate in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, where she won a well-deserved bronze medal.
Derartu Tulu is considered to be the pioneer of the current domination of female African runners, especially Ethiopian. She is one of the best long distance runners in history, and she was also the first Sub-Saharan African athlete to achieve major results on an international level.
A member of the Oromo ethnic group, Derartu Tulu grew up tending cattle in the Arsi highlands of Ethiopia. She did not realize that she was an unusually fast runner until she was 16 years old.c group, Derartu Tulu grew up tending cattle in the Arsi highlands of Ethiopia. She did not realize that she was an unusually fast runner until she was 16 years old.
𝗛𝗼𝗽𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗔𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗮
In the 10,000m final at the 1992 Olympic Games, Elana Meyer of South Africa pulled away from the field after 6,100m and only Tulu was able to keep pace with her. Meyer tried to force Tulu to pass her, but Tulu refused. Finally, just before the start of the last lap, Tulu darted into the lead and went on to win by 30 metres. She waited for Meyer at the finish line, and then Tulu, the first black African woman to earn an Olympic medal, and Meyer, a white South African, set off hand in hand for a victory lap that symbolized hope for a new Africa.
Two Ethiopians on the podium, twice Tulu returned to the Olympic in 1996, but finished a disappointing fourth. However, her running career was far from over. At the 2000 Sydney Games, Tulu again entered the 10,000m. Regaining her form of eight years earlier, she took the lead at the bell signalling the final lap and sprinted ahead to a clear victory over teammate Gete Wami. Tulu became the first woman to win two gold medals in Olympic distance races. At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, she won the bronze medal in the 10,000m (gold medallist was China’s Huina Xing, silver medallist, Derartu’s compatriot Ejegayehu Dibaba).