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Abebe Bikila wins marathon in 1960 Rome Olympics... barefoot.

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Uploaded on Aug 23, 2010

50 years ago in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila won the marathon event, 24 years after Mussolini had conquered his homeland of Ethiopia. He won in world record time (2:15:16) & becoming the first African to win an Olympic medal. Not only that, he did it barefoot (after they couldn't find a pair of shoes that fit him comfortably)! Mind you a lot of the streets here in Rome are cobblestone & since it was so hot the race was started at sunset & ended in the dark of night lit by Roman soldiers holding torches. He was a last minute replacement for the Ethiopian team & didn't even start running until he was 24. Evidently a few KM from the finish, Bikila saw the Obelisk of Axum, which invading Italian troops stole from Ethiopia during WWII (& only restored to Ethiopia in 2008). At this point Bikila was neck & neck with the Moroccan Rhadi, but wen he saw the obelisk he surged & Rhadi couldn't keep up.

Even though he had an appendectomy 40 days before the event & wasn't able to train or expected to even run it, he went on to win again in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, this time with shoes, becoming the first person to repeat gold in the marathon.

You might wonder what he could've done with "modern" training & equipment, but then again this also demonstrates the importance of natural talent & determination. The biomechanical efficiency of his stride is simply awe-inspiring

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