Gérman Silva named as winner of Abebe Bikila Award

Gérman Silva named as winner of Abebe Bikila Award

Provided by IAAF

New York, USA - The 1994 and 1995 New York City Marathon champion, Gérman Silva of Mexico, has been named the winner of the Abebe Bikila Award for 2011 in recognition of his lifelong commitment to giving back to his community through his running.

The award, named for legendary 1960 and 1964 Olympic marathon champion Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, has been presented annually by New York Road Runners (NYRR) since 1978 to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of long distance running both on and off the field of competition.

Past recipients include Grete Waitz, Bill Rodgers, Fred Lebow, Allan Steinfeld, and last year’s winner, Paul Tergat. Silva is the first Mexican to receive the award.  

“One wrong turn made Gérman famous, but it is a whole career of giving back to the community through and with his running that made him a true champion,” said NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg. “Always one of our favourites here in New York, Gérman has earned the accolades and recognition of our entire sport.”

Silva will be presented with the award as part of the Marathon Opening Ceremony in Central Park on the evening of Friday, 4 November. His wife, Miranda, and their children Zyanya and Riwan will join Silva at the Opening Ceremony, which is open to the public.

“Receiving this award causes a lot of emotions,” said Silva, 43. “I feel so honoured and proud. It awakens a lot of memories and how New York has changed my life forever. I’d like to dedicate the award to my family, to all of my Mexican friends. Thank you sincerely, all of you, and let us continue touching the lives of many more! The world needs a lot of runners.”

Silva is best known for the first of his two New York City Marathon wins when he mistakenly veered off the course in the final mile and then made an astounding recovery to overtake his compatriot Benjamin Parades in the final steps. He was also a two-time Olympian, finishing sixth in the 10,000 meters in the 1992 Barcelona Games, the same position he achieved in the marathon in the 1996 Atlanta Games. He posted his career-best time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 56 seconds in Boston in 1998.

Throughout his career, Silva has consistently given back to his community through organizing running events in small rural communities, encouraging children to run, and distributing running shoes to local communities during his travels throughout Mexico. He currently coaches several leading Mexican long distance runners and is the head coach at the La Loma high altitude training center in San Luis Potosí.

Silva officially retired from competition in 2001, but he has continued to run the ING New York City Marathon. He finished in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009, and he is expected to run again this year.