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Olympic medalist afraid to return to home nation

Posted: 3:20 PM, Aug 21, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-21 21:22:00Z

Feyisa Lilesa is one of the world's greatest long-distance runners, but his incredible athletic achievement does little to save him from the violence taking place at the hands of his nation's government. 

Lilesa was crowned a silver medalist for the marathon event at the 2016 Rio Olympics on Sunday. When Lilesa crossed the finish line, he crossed his wrists forming an X. The symbol was one of protest from Lilesa toward the Ethiopian government led by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Lilesa told the Sydney Morning Herald that he expects consequences from the Ethiopian government for his protest. 

"If I go back to Ethiopia maybe they will kill me. If I am not killed maybe they will put me in prison. [If ] they [do] not put me in prison they will block me at airport," he told the paper. "I have got a decision. Maybe I move to another country."

According to Human Rights Watch, Ethoipian troops killed as many as 100 anti-government protesters last week. The non-profit organization states that at least 500 anti-government protesters have been killed since late 2015. 

"I was protesting for my people," Lilesa told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It was for all my relatives in prison. I am worried to ask my relatives to talk in prison - if you talk you get killed."