Commemorating Abebe Bikila’s 82nd Birthday
Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian double Olympic marathon champion, widely known as for winning a marathon gold medal running barefoot, was born on August 7, 1932.
Abebe flew by the soldiers standing with flaming torches along the darkening course that evening and slowly pulled away from his Moroccan opponent before crossing the finish line at the Arch of Constantine in a world-record time of 2:15:16.
Asked later why he ran barefoot, Bikila replied, “I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.”
With his 26-second win over Rhadi, Abebe Bikila had become the first black African to win a gold medal in Olympic history.
Abebe died on 25 October 1973, left behind his wife and four children and a national mourning was proclaimed for his heroism by the then ruler, Emperor Haile-sselasie.