Running a Marathon
Picture the scene, you spend your entire life training to represent your country in the Olympics, with 26.2 miles of space separating you from that gold medal. Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian long-distance runner, faced this challenge after getting a late call up to the team as a marathon runner during the 1964 Rome Olympics. He arrived unknown to the majority of viewers but ended up playing a lead-role in what would be one of the most remarkable achievements ever seen.
Running with no shoes….
The marathon event has long been known as one of the most grueling activities an athlete can endure, but imagine doing it, with no shoes….. His story is inspiring! The Ethiopian team had issued each athlete with shoes, but they were causing Abebe discomfort, so much so that he could not compete in them. He took matters into his own hands and decided that completing the race barefoot would serve him best, and boy did it. He quickly caught the media’s attention with his true underdog story, making himself the first East-African to win an Olympic Gold medal.
Consecutive Olympic Golds
As you can probably imagine, Abebe was not shy to a challenge and overcame incredible odds again the following Olympics in Tokyo, 1968. This time, he was diagnosed with appendicitis six weeks before the upcoming marathon, a race he had been preparing for as the defending champion. After having his appendix removed, doctors, the media and fans all doubted whether even participating would be possible for this dedicated athlete. However, Abebe powered through, winning in dominant fashion, making himself the first runner to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the marathon. Thankfully, for his feet’s sake, this one was in shoes.
You can watch footage of this remarkable athlete here.