Ethiopian marathon runner was a pioneer in long-distance running. Abebe participated in a total of sixteen marathons, winning twelve. Onni Niskanen, a Swedish coach employed by the Ethiopian government to train the Imperial Guard, soon noticed him and began training him for the marathon.

Arch of Constantine / Image: via

Niskanen entered Abebe Bikila and Abebe Wakgira in the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics. In Rome, Abebe purchased new running shoes, but they did not fit well and gave him blisters. He consequently decided to run barefoot instead.

Due to Rome’s blistering heat, the race started in late-afternoon at the foot of the Capitoline Hill staircase and finished at night at the Arch of Constantine, just outside the Colosseum.

As darkness descended over the city, Bikila and Moroccan long-distance runner, Ben Abdesselam, had already dispatched the rest of the field. The two rivals were left struggling for primacy when the Ethiopian broke away 500m ahead of the finish line, winning by 25 seconds.

He was the first Sub-Saharan African to win an Olympic gold medal in any Olympic sport, but he also clocked the 42 km event in a record time of 2:15:16. After the race, when Bikila was asked why he had run barefoot, he replied: “I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.”

Featured Image: Abebe Bikila sprints away from Rhadi Ben Abdesselam near the end of the marathon / Image:, via Wikipedia



Latest Posts

OAO 2 Stargazer – The first successful space telescope in Earth orbit

The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2, launched on December 7, 1968. An Atlas-Centaur rocket launched it…

International UFO Museum and Research Center – The location of the UFO history in Roswell

Museum is focused largely on the Roswell Crash and later supposed UFO incidents. It was…

Sólheimasandur Crash – The Abandoned plane wreckage in Sólheimasandur

The remains of the aircraft which crashed in 1973 have remained relatively intact, leading to…

Cube houses – The set of innovative houses in Rotterdam

The houses built in Rotterdam and Helmond in the Netherlands, designed by architect Piet Blom.…

Paris of China – The replica of the French capital in Tianducheng

Spread over 31 square kilometers, this luxurious housing estate, opened in 2007, was modeled after…

Bishop Castle – The elaborate and intricate castle in Rye

The “castle” is located in the San Isabel National Forest, southwest of Pueblo, Colorado. Bishop…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us