Olympic Moment in History: “And what’s this Ethiopian called?”

Above: Legendary Abebe Bikila returns home with Africa’s first
Olympic Gold Medal. Bikila returned to Ethiopia as a hero.
Emperor Haile Selassie promoted him to the rank of corporal
position in the Imperial Bodyguard, where he served, and
awarded him the Star of Ethiopia. (tessemas.net)

Abebe Bikila: Barefoot in Rome (Time)
bikila_0818.jpg
FOOT SOLDIER: Running without shoes, Bikila, an
Imperial Guardsman in Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie’s court,
pulls ahead in the 1960 Rome marathon (Popperfoto/Getty)

By SIMON ROBINSON

Wednesday, Aug. 06, 2008

A few of the other runners sniggered when they saw Abebe Bikila turn up at the start of the Olympic marathon with no shoes. As a television camera scanned the scrum of athletes readying themselves for the starter’s gun, a commentator asked: “And what’s this Ethiopian called?” It was 1960, Rome. Africa was just shrugging off the weight of colonial rule and some sporting officials still doubted Africans were ready for the big time. A little over 2 hr. 15 min. later that myth lay shattered by the slight man wearing number 11, a member of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie’s Imperial Guard and a proud African whose gliding, barefoot run through Rome’s cobblestone streets announced his continent’s emergence as a running powerhouse. Read More.

2 Responses to “Olympic Moment in History: “And what’s this Ethiopian called?””


  1. 1 biniam Mar 2nd, 2009 at 5:50 am

    what an atheltics he is the best
    he is a hero for Ethopia
    he must be proud of him self
    god bless him
    and let god give this can’d of people for Ethopia
    god bless Ethopia

  1. 1 Olympic Hero Abebe Bikila at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Aug 9th, 2008 at 1:07 am
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