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BIKILA Abebe
BIKILA Abebe

Abebe BIKILA

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Abebe Bikila was born in Ethiopia on 7 August 1932, the day of the Los Angeles Olympic marathon.

Attacking by the obelisk

Twenty-eight years later, he entered the marathon at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. He and his coach, Onni Niskanen, decided that Bikila, who ran barefooted, should make his final move a little more than one kilometre from the finish line. It was at this point that the course passed the obelisk of Axum, a monument that had been plundered from Ethiopia by Italian troops and hauled away to Rome. When Bikila reached the obelisk, he was running even with Rhadi Ben Abdesselem of Morocco. Bikila successfully pulled away and won by 200m.

Winning twice, Olympic history

Although no one had ever won the marathon twice, Bikila returned to the Olympic Games in 1964, even though he had undergone an appendectomy 40 days before the race. This time he ran with shoes and socks. Bikila took a clear lead by the halfway mark and steadily pulled away to win by more than four minutes. His time, 2 hours 12 minutes 11.2 seconds, was a world best for the marathon.

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Gallery

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Bikila unmoved by footwear failure

What do you do when your shoes wear out and you have an Olympic Games marathon to run? Take Abebe Bikila's advice and go barefoot.
IOC
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OLYMPIC 64 BIKILA

1964: ABEBE BIKILA ENTERS THE STADIUM TO WIN THE OLYMPIC MARATHON FOR THE SECOND TIME AT THE TOKYO OLYMPICS. HE HAD PREVIOUSLY WON IN ROME IN 1960.(TD)(PU) Mandatory Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive
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56 Bikila 1964 Olympics 0002200P

24 Oct 1964: Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia runs through the streets of Tokyo, on his way to winning the marathon at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. In 1960 in Rome, barely known outside his country, he ran barefoot to become the first black African to winan Olympic title. Four years later, he wore shoes and won by an even greater margin, just five weeks after having his appendix removed and losing eleven days training in his final preparation. Sadly he was badly injured in a car crash five years laterand died prematurely at the age of 41. Under a bursary scheme provided by the IOC, his two children completed their education at Loughborough College in Britain. Mandatory Credit: IOC/Allsport
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Marathon Winners

The three winners of the marathon event at the Tokyo Olympics stand side by side on the rostrum, 23rd October 1964. From left to right, they are Basil Heatley of Great British (silver), Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia (gold) and Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan (bronze). Bikila also set a world record of 2 hours, 12.11 minutes. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Tokyo 1964-BIKILA Abebe (ETH) 1st.
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Marathon Entry

21st October 1964: Marathon runner Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia entering Tokyo stadium for the finish of the Olympic marathon. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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Results

  • Games
    Result
    Sport
    Event
  • G 2:12:11.2
    Athletics
    marathon men
  • G 2:15:16.2
    Athletics
    marathon men

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