10 September 1960

At the Rome 1960 Summer Olympics the Ethiopian, Abebe Bikila wins a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.

Abebe Bikila’s victory at the Rome 1960 Summer Olympics is a historic and iconic moment in the world of sports. Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian long-distance runner, made history by winning the gold medal in the men’s marathon event. However, it was not just his victory that made headlines but also the remarkable circumstances surrounding his win.

Barefoot Victory: Perhaps the most famous aspect of Bikila’s win was that he ran the entire marathon barefoot. This decision was not a result of any planned strategy but rather a last-minute choice. Bikila had originally trained with running shoes but found them uncomfortable during the race’s final preparations. Consequently, he chose to run barefoot, showcasing his extraordinary endurance and resilience.

Record-Breaking Performance: Abebe Bikila’s time of 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 16.2 seconds in the marathon set a new world record. His impressive performance not only won him the gold medal but also marked the first Olympic gold medal ever won by an African athlete in a long-distance event.

Symbol of African Excellence: Bikila’s victory in Rome was seen as a symbol of African athletic prowess and endurance. It represented the emergence of African nations as contenders on the international sports stage.

A Second Gold: Abebe Bikila would go on to compete in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where he once again won the gold medal in the marathon. This time, he wore shoes but still managed to break the world record.

Legacy: Abebe Bikila’s legacy extends beyond his remarkable athletic achievements. He became a national hero in Ethiopia and an inspiration to many aspiring athletes, particularly in Africa. His success helped pave the way for future African long-distance runners to excel in international competitions.