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Hunting and practicing military skills were important sports in Oromia before it was colonized. Oromo men used to hunt large animals as a test of manhood. They used hides, ivory, and horns in their arts and crafts. Hunting was seen as training for warfare for young Oromos. It helped them learn how to handle their weapons and prepare themselves for difficult conditions.
Popular sports among children and young adults in Oromo society includegugssa(horseback riding),qillee(field hockey),darboo(throwing spears),waldhaansso(wrestling),utaalu(jumping), and swimming. Oromo society has produced athletes who have competed and won in international sports events. In 1956, Wami Biratu, an Oromo soldier serving in the Ethiopian colonial army, was the first Oromo athlete to participate in the Olympic Games. He became a source of inspiration for other Oromo athletes. Ababa Biqila, another Oromo soldier, won the 1960 Rome Olympic Marathon and set a new world record, running barefoot. Another Oromo soldier, Mamo Wolde, became the 1968 Olympic Marathon champion. Other Oromo soldiers have succeeded in international competitions as well.
In 1988, Ababa Makonnen (Ababa Biqila’s nephew) won the Tokyo Marathon, and Wadajo Bulti and Kabada Balcha came in second and third. Daraje Nadhi and Kalacha Mataferia won first and second place, respectively, in the World Cup marathon in 1989. In 1992, Daraartu Tullu (1969–), an Oromo woman, won the gold medal for her victory in the 10,000-meter race in the Barcelona Olympic Games. In 1996, another Oromo woman, Fatuma Roba, became a women’s marathon gold medalist. She was the first from Africa to win this kind of race, and she was the fastest marathon runner in the world. The successes of these Oromo athletes demonstrate the rich cultural heritage of athletic ability in Oromo society. The victories of these athletes went to Ethiopia.