Gena Wins Rome Marathon Barefoot, Pays Homage to Abebe Bikila

Above: Siraj Gena won the men’s Rome marathon barefoot on
Sunday, replicating Abebe Bikila’s famous barefoot victory at the
1960 Olympic Games (right).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 21, 2010

New York (Tadias) — Ethiopia’s Siraj Gena captured the Gold medal at the Rome marathon on Sunday, sprinting across the last 500 meters barefoot.

Gena finished the race in two hours, eight minutes and 39 seconds, beating Benson Barus and Nixon Machichim of Kenya for the top spot.

The runner took off his shoes to pay tribute to fellow Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, who ran the 1960 Olympic marathon in the same city barefoot and won the gold medal to become the first black African Olympic champion, hailing Ethiopia and Africa into the spotlight.

“I felt I had to do something to honor Bikila,” Gena told the ANSA news agency. “For me he will always be an enormous inspiration and today I wanted to see what it would be like to cross the line in Rome barefooted like he once did.”

Ethiopians also swept up the medals in the women’ race. Firehiwot Dado won the gold in two hours, 25 minutes and 28 seconds, followed by Kebebush Haile who came in second at 2:25.31, and Mare Dibaba finished third at 2:25.38.


Siraj Gena of Ethiopia reaches out to grab an Ethiopian flag as he crosses the finish
line barefoot in front of the Colosseum to win the Rome City Marathon, Sunday March
21, 2010. Gena took his shoes off some 500 meters before the finish line to
commemorate Ethiopia’s athlete Abebe Bikila who, 50 years ago, won the Rome
1960 Olympic Games marathon running without shoes. Photo: Associated Press.

Video: Abebe Bikila 1960 Olympic Marathon

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7 Responses to “Gena Wins Rome Marathon Barefoot, Pays Homage to Abebe Bikila”


  1. 1 YIBELTAL SEIFU Mar 21st, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Betam Asdestognal (I am happy). I thank Gena for commemorating athlete Abebe Bikila! Very Nice Picture.

    YIBELTAL

  2. 2 Alemu Mar 21st, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Fantastic! Great job Gena! Not only is he a great athlete, but also a PR genius. What a great way to honor the one and only legendary runner Abebe Bekila!

  3. 3 gogo Mar 21st, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Congratulaitons to Siraj for his victory. And many thanks to you for your commitment to commemorating our great Athlete, Abebe Bikila. Hope you will be one of the greatest athlets of our country.

    Enkuan Des Yaleh

    Congratulations to our sisters too. You make us remember Arenguadew Gorf.

    Cheers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. 4 Daniel Mar 21st, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Awesome!
    Lets not also forget the women sweep of the marathons ( 1st,2nd and 3rd places)

  5. 5 Debre Tabor Mar 21st, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    An utterly stunning picture: Ethiopian Endeavor! The (full) picture with bared, shone feet in homage to an outstanding lineage; arms outstretched, reaching midstride for the flag whilst all the while draped triumphantly with the finishing ribbon across his body is surely an Iconic picture of obvious meaning. What is more is the backdrop of the Stadium with its own singular place in sport history which at this moment attends to serve as a witness to this new great champion as it once stood in awe of Abebe Bikila.

    Yichilal. Gobez!

  6. 6 Debre Tabor Mar 21st, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I goofed- the word Stadium (should read) “Colosseum” or “Roman Coliseum”

    Thank you.

  7. 7 jemaneh aklog Jun 2nd, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    this is nice
    thank you

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