After Abebe Bikila, had won the 1960 and 1964 Olympic marathons, Wolde became the third consecutive Ethiopian to win the title on the distance. Earlier in the same Olympics, Wolde had already won the silver medal on the 10,000 m. In 1972, Wolde, aged 41, won a third Olympic medal, finishing in third position in the marathon.
In 1993, Wolde was arrested, accused of taking part in an execution during the regime of the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in his country. In early 2002 he was convicted to six years of imprisonment, but released because he had spent 9 years already waiting for his trial.
A few months after being released, on May 26, 2002, Wolde died of an undisclosed illness.