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Biography of Abebe Bikila

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What ran without shoes August 7, 1932
October 25, 1973

Who is: Abebe Bikila


The name is Bikila and the last name is Abebe, but Ethiopian rule for which you are appointed before the last name and then first name, shows this character throughout the world as "Abebe Bikila. Was born on August 7, 1932 to Jato, distant village nine kilometers from Mendida, Ethiopia; on the same day that comes to light in Los Angeles you are rushing the Olympic Marathon. Son of a pastor, before becoming a national hero for his sporting achievements, his profession was that of a police officer, as well as personal bodyguard of the Emperor Haile Selassie; profession that decide to undertake in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, to earn some money and support the family.

Remains a legend in sports since the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960 he won the race barefoot running the marathon. It's the September 10: Abebe finds himself to be in Ethiopian Olympic team as a replacement for Wami Biratu, injured shortly before departure during a football game. Shoes supplied by sponsor are not comfortable, so two hours before the race decides to run barefoot.

He started with athletics competitions only four years before, coached by Swedish Onni Niskanen. The Rome marathon route exceeds the custom which wanted the start and the finish inside the Olympic Stadium. On the eve of the race were very few those that included Abebe Bikila among names Favorites, despite the etipe did score a remarkable time in the days before. Wearing the Green Jersey number 11, hires a challenge against a ghost: Abebe wants to keep an eye on the runner number 26, the Moroccan Rhadi Ben Abdesselam, which instead part with 185. Bikila remains between head and not finding the opponent thinks he is ahead. Eventually the Ethiopian winner. After the race, when asked the reason for his decision to run barefoot, to declare: "I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism."

Four years later, Abebe Bikila occurs at the summer Olympics (Tokyo 1964) under non-optimal shape: only six weeks before had undergone a surgical operation to the Appendix and the time devoted to training was very low. Despite this unfavorable circumstance he is the athlete who crosses the finish line first and who will wear the neck the gold medal. On this occasion he competes with shoes and establishes the world best time over the distance. In the history of this arduous discipline, Abebe Bikila was the first athlete ever to have won the Olympic Marathon twice in a row.

1968 Olympic Games, held in Mexico City, the 36-year old Ethiopian must undergo and withstand several persons, due to the altitude, the accidents and generally advanced age now. Will withdraw from the race before reaching the finish line.

Fifteen runs marathons in his career, winning twelve (two pick-ups and a fifth place in Boston, in May 1963).

The following year, in 1969, remains the victim of an automobile accident near Addis Ababa: remains paralyzed from the chest down. Despite treatment and international interest will no longer be able to walk. He had always loved alternating in various sports disciplines like football, tennis and basketball. Unable to use limbs do not lose the strength to continue to compete: archery, table tennis, even in a race of sleighs (in Norway).

Abebe Bikila will die because of a brain hemorrhage at the age of forty-one years, October 25, 1973.

The National Stadium in Addis Ababa will be dedicated to him.

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