Feyisa Lilesa Bio: Olympics, Exile & Gold Medal

This article was last updated by on

Feyisa Lilesa is an Ethiopian long-distance runner who is also a member of the Oromo people. 

Lilesa is famous for completing the men’s marathon in 2010 and timed 2:05:23 at Rotterdam Marathon. Moreover, this event made him the youngest man to run under 2:06.

Nevertheless, Feyisa Lilesa rose to prominence after finishing the 2012 Chicago Marathon in second place, notably with the personal best of 2:04:52. 

Feyisa Lilesa
Feyisa Lilesa celebrates after crossing the finish line during the men’s marathon at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The Ethiopian native Feyisa Lilesa was born in 1990. Moreover, there is not much detail about his father and mother.

Also, it seems like Feyisa wants to concentrate on his game instead of public attention and popularity.

Quick Facts

Full Name Feyisa Lilesa
Date of Birth 1 February 1990
Birth Place Ethiopia 
Nick Name  Feyisa
Religion Unknown 
Nationality Ethiopian
Ethnicity Black
Zodiac Sign  Virgo
Age 34 years old
Height 6’2” (1.87m)
Weight 154.3 lb (67 kg)
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Brownish
Build Athletic 
Farther’s Name Unknown 
Mother’s Name Unknown
Siblings None
Education Unknown
Marital Status Married
Wife Iftu Mulisa
Children Soko Lilesa and Soro Lilesa
Profession  Runner 
Team Ethiopia National Team
Level  Senior Player
Previous Team N/A
Highest Rank  No. 4
Active Years 2008 – present
Net Worth $700,000
Social Media Instagram, Twitter
Merch Book
Last Update June, 2024

Feyisa Lilesa | Salary and Career Earning 

Feyisa Lilesa is the pride of Ethiopia who has waved his country’s flag with many main event victories.

However, as of 2021, the salary of Fyisa Lilesa is unknown. But he certainly earns a handsome income from his salary and prize money. 

Nevertheless, he won the Bogota Half Marathon in 2017. Evidently, by winning the event, he has claimed the prize money of $110,000.

Likewise, following the same year, Feyisa also won another half marathon called the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon, where he received prize money of $215,000.

Not to mention, in 2016, Feylsa Lilesa made history in the Rio Olympics, claiming the second spot. Moreover, during that time, he received $1,471,315 as prize money.

Also Read About Popular Track Runner Sebastian Coe Net Worth: Salary & Career Earnings >>

Feyisa Lilesa | Early Income and Prize Money

The Ethiopian marathon runner, Felsa Lilesa, has so far won five tournaments.

Evidently, through his professional career, he has earned a good amount of fortune and fame.

Moreover, Felsa Lilesa’s first victory was in the Dublin marathon. There he received $50,000 including several thousand dollars as additional prize money.

In fact, the prominent marathon runner Feyisa has also won race Xiamen International Marathon in China.

However, after winning the race, he settled for only $25000, rather than the full prize money of $40,000, as his finishing time did not reach the minimum.

Nevertheless, after a long wait, he finally waved the flag of victory in 2016 in the Tokyo marathon.

Furthermore, the Tokyo marathon total winning prize was $1,084,000, including $352,000 as a prize poll.

Moreover, the $732,000 amount included time bonuses with a maximum potential payout of $460,000.

Therefore, winning the Tokyo marathon has earned him nearly a half-million dollars.

Feyisa Lilesa | Marriage Life and Children

The world-renowned marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa is a married man as of 2021. He is married to his long-time girlfriend, Iftu Mulisa.

Sadly, Lilesa’s wife, Mulisa is not socially active; hence, the information and personal details are unknown. 

Moreover, so far, even Feyisa did not spill a bean regarding his married life. It seems like he wants to keep his family out of the spotlight.

Feyisas Lilea With His Wife And Children
Feyisas Lilea With His Wife And Children

Nevertheless, the lovely couple Feyisa Lilesa and Iftu Mulisa got married in 2012 in Ethiopia.

Similarly, the couple’s long married life has blessed them with three adorable children.

Feyisa’s his eldest daughter Soko Lilesa who is now 6 years old. Furthermore, the couple also has a son named Sora Lilesa.

Also Read About Mutaz Barshim Bio: Childhood, Olympics & Net Worth >>

Tragic Story of Feyisa Lilesa

In 2016, the Ethiopian governments decided to reallocate land in the Oromo and Amhara regions.

Even though the native people of that place were protesting, the government went on with their plan instead of control. 

In fact, Human Rights Watch claims security forces have murdered more than 400 Oromo demonstrators, a statistic the government rejects.

Likewise, Feyisa Lilesa was watching over Ethiopians Oromo who had been subjected to violent police agitation.

Feyisa Lilesa Showing Support For His People
Feyisa Lilesa Showing Support For His People

Nevertheless, he crossed his hands on his head to support the victims as he concluded the marathon.

In fear of being murdered after the event, Lilesa did not go back to his native land. Instead, he took asylum in Arizona, United States. 

After that the new successor of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, encouraged him to return home to his country in October 2018, ending his two-year exile.

Feyisa Lilesa | Career Overview

Taking about his career, Feyisa Lilesa’s first big competition was the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

Moreover, his 14th position in the young division during the game allowed Ethiopians to win their silver medals.

Furthermore, in 2008, he began to compete in international competitions.

Evidently, Feyisa raced the World 10K Bangalore inaugural edition in May, where he placed fifth. 

International Wins and Records

The next year, Feyisa took a senior debut at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2009, where he won the silver medal for the top team.

Notably, In January 2010, Feyisa Lilesa significantly improved on the Xiamen International Marathon.

During the game, Feyisa broke the record of Samuel Muturi Mugo and earned his first win at a major marathon.

Feyisa Lilesa’s Book

Detailing the struggle and life of Feyisa, Dr. Stephany Evans Steggall wrote the book titled ‘A Time To Born: The Feyisa Lilesa Story.’

This book is an inflammatory narrative that gives readers a broad view of a renowned East African runner.

Evidently, it’s a life story book whose heroism of Feyisa, an Oromo, Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group.

The notion of a birth time is a cosmological belief extremely strongly held by the Oromo.

Moreover, the book also includes Feyisa wonder if he had been born at the proper moment as he narrates his story.

Read About Taoufik Makhloufi Bio: Tokyo 2021, Net Worth & Training

Major Accomplishment 

  • Bronze medal in 2011 at World Championship marathon.
  • Silver medal at the Rio Olympics (2016).
  • Silver medal at IAAF World Cross Country Championship (2009).


What happened to Feyisa Lilesaa?

After the fear of death, he did not return to his country and remained in the United States. However, the Ethiopian hero returned to his homeland in 2016.

Is Feyisa Lilesa family dead?

No, Feyisa Lisa’s family is not dead. Although he was exiled, his family and relatives stayed in Ethiopia safely.

Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

Related articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share article

Latest News