- historical event:
- Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila decided to run the Olympic marathon barefoot. He was successful and even managed to win first place. In fact, he even became the first person from sub-Saharan Africa to win a gold Olympic medal.
The well-known Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila died on this day. He became famous for winning the gold Olympic medal in 1960, after running the marathon barefoot. The Olympic Games were held in Rome that year. Furthermore, he also managed the same feat at the 1964 Olympics, becoming the first man in history to win two consecutive Olympic marathons.
The reason he decided to run barefoot lies in the fact that he was a member of the Ethiopian Imperial Guard (the famous Haile Selassie was emperor at that time). Bikila was allegedly placed on the list of Ethiopian competitors at the last moment. For this reason, he was insufficiently equipped for the run. It seems that Adidas, the company which was supposed to provide the running shoes for the contestants, did not have an appropriate pair for Bikila, so that he decided to run barefoot.
He not only managed to finish the marathon, but he even won it. In fact, he even became the first person from sub-Saharan Africa to win a gold Olympic medal.
Bikila also won at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964, setting a new world record. He didn’t even look exhausted after the marathon, and later claimed he could have run another 10 kilometers or so.