Abebe Bikila

Marathon Runner Abebe Bikila

Profession: Marathon Runner


Biography: Bikila entered into the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome with a new pair of poorly fitted running shoes. Forgoing them due to the blisters they incurred, Bikila ran the marathon barefoot, breaking the world record with a time of 2 hours 15 minutes 16.2 seconds.

Bikila won his second medal 4 years later-wearing shoes- at the Tokyo Olympics in 2 hours 12 minutes 11.2 seconds.

In 1969 Bikila was paralysed in a car accident, and died 4 years later of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Bikila is regarded as a national hero in Ethiopia, as Africa's first world record breaking athlete in any sport and the first sub-Saharan African Olympic gold medallist.

Born: August 7, 1932
Birthplace: Jato, Ethiopian Empire

Generation: Silent Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Monkey
Star Sign: Leo

Died: October 25, 1973 (aged 41)
Cause of Death:

Historical Events

  • 1960-09-10 Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia runs WR 2:15:16.2 barefoot to take out the men's marathon at the Rome Olympics; Africa's first ever Olympic gold medal
  • 1964-10-21 Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia runs a world record 2:12:11.2 to beat Briton Basil Heatley by more than 4 minutes and win the men's marathon at the Tokyo Olympics; first athlete to win Olympic marathon twice
  • 1969-03-20 Ethiopian double Olympic marathon gold medallist Abebe Bikila is paralysed in an auto-accident near Addis Ababa; regained upper-body mobility, but never walked again

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