South Africa’s long-distance running queen, Elana Meyer, and Ethiopian legend, Derartu Tulu, were this week reunited at the scene of their epic 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games 10-thousand metres battle 30 years ago.The gold and silver medallists created an image that united Africa, in South Africa’s first Olympic Games after being cast into the wilderness due to apartheid, one of the most iconic moments in Olympic Games history in Barcelona in 1992.
Following the end of apartheid, South Africa was reinstated to the International Olympic Committee just three months before the Games. Tulu became the first African woman to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games and Meyer won South Africa’s first medal silver-post isolation. Their victory lap symbolised a new hope for Africa.
Thirty years later, the two were reunited at the same Olympic stadium to celebrate that moment and reflect on the impact it had on the continent and around the world.
“Certainly, was a life-changing event and moment for me, so to be back here and celebrate it with Derartu is certainly special. This time a brought my family along, so to be able to connect them with that iconic moment in my life, “says Meyer.
Neither athlete expected to medal going into the race nor while the medals around their necks were just rewards for their effort, it was the moments after the race that Tulu reminisces over and the bond she has with Meyer.
In the years following the Barcelona Games, Tulu went on to become a legendary figure in Ethiopian sport and is currently president of the country’s athletics federation. For Meyer, Barcelona was her swan song after having missed previous international events due to apartheid.
“I was at the height of my career; I had already missed out on two Olympics in 1984 and in 1988. In many ways, I could not wait any longer and almost miss out on another one. So for me, it was that unbelievable opportunity to represent South Africa even though we had not moved into a democratic country” explain Meyer.
Their post-race celebrations were the most natural of actions. The hugs, the embrace and the flag-waving celebrations have never been forgotten. And while the duo have gone on to achieve great things on and off the track since, they both seem to appreciate that perhaps nothing will carry quite as significant an impact as their actions after the women’s 10-thousand metres race at the Barcelona Olympic Games 30 years ago.
South Africa’s Elana Meyer and Ethiopia’s Derartu Tulu met in Barcelona 30 years after their 10,000m final at the 1992 Olympics. After a private visit of the Olympic Museum and a press conference, the 2 athletes returned to the stadium which was theatre of their triumph#reunion pic.twitter.com/uHnQa5mti6
— Team South Africa (@TeamSA2024) September 28, 2022