Tribute to Abebe Bikila: The Marathoner Who Wore No Shoes

Running barefoot in Italy, Abebe Bikila became the first black African to win Olympic gold when he won the 1960 marathon. He repeated the feat four years later in Tokyo. A stadium in Addis Ababa is named in his honor. (Photographed by: John G. Zimmerman/SI)

Yahoo News
By Judith Natelli Mclaughlin

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 1960 Olympic Games are given a historic makeover, as the events are held in Rome, Italy, a venue rich with ancient history. With history serving as a backdrop for this Olympiad, it was only fitting that more history be made at these Games. Ethiopian marathon runner, Abebe Bikila, was primed for the challenge. At this Olympics, Bikila became the first black African Olympic champion. Representing Ethiopa, Bikila prepared intensely for the 1960 Games—so intensely that he suffered a blister on his foot, only days before the competition. Rather than be compromised by this injury, Abebe decided to run the marathon in bare feet. His competitors snickered at the sight of a marathon runner with no shoes.

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