Abebe Bikila: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on Abebe Bikila

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Olympic medalist
Center
Abebe Bikila
Medal record
Men's Athletics
Gold 1960 Rome Marathon
Gold 1964 Tokyo Marathon

Abebe Bikila (አበበ ቢቂላ) (August 7, 1932 – October 25, 1973) was a two-time Olympic marathon champion from Ethiopia. He was the first black African in history to win a gold medal in the Olympics.[1] A stadium in Addis Ababa is named in his honor.[2]

Contents

Background

Advertisements

1932 – 1959

Abebe Bikila was born on August 7, 1932, the day of the Los Angeles Olympic Marathon, in the village of Jato, located 9 kilometers outside the town of Mendida, Ethiopia. His father was a shepherd. Abebe decided to join the Imperial Bodyguard to support his family, and walked to Addis Ababa where he started as a private.

Onni Niskanen, a Finnish-born Swede, was hired by the Ethiopian government to train potential athletes. He soon spotted Bikila.

1960 Summer Olympics

Bikila was added to the Ethiopian Olympic team only at the last moment, as the plane to Rome was about to leave, as a replacement for Wami Biratu, who had broken his ankle in a soccer match. Major Onni Niskanen entered Bikila and Mamo Wolde in the marathon.

Adidas, the shoe sponsor at the 1960 Summer Olympics, had few shoes left when Bikila went to try out shoes and he ended up with a pair that didn’t fit comfortably, so he couldn't use them. A couple of hours before the race the decision was taken by Abebe to run barefoot, the way he'd trained for the race. Bikila was warned by Niskanen about his main rivals, one of whom was Rhadi Ben Abdesselam from Morocco, who was supposed to wear number 26. For unknown reasons, Rhadi did not acquire his black marathon bib before the race, and instead was wearing his regularly assigned track and field bib number 185.

The late afternoon race had its start point and finish at the Arch of Constantine, just outside the Colosseum. At the start of the race the Australian Ron Clarke made a comment to Bikila about running barefoot.

During the race Bikila passed numerous runners, looking for the runner with number 26. By about 20 km, Bikila and the runner with number 185 had created a gap from the rest of the pack. Bikila kept looking forward to find the runner with number 26, who unbeknownst to Bikila was running right beside him. They stayed together until the last 500 m, when Abebe sprinted to the finish line. Bikila won in a record time of 2:15:16.2, becoming the first black African to win an Olympic gold medal. He finished 26 seconds ahead of Rhadi.

After the race, when Bikila was asked why he had run barefoot, he replied, “I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism."

Niskanen later speculated that if Rhadi hadn’t competed in the 10,000 m race several days before, the race might have been closer.

1960 - 1964

In 1961 Bikila ran marathons in Greece, Japan, and the City of Kosice in Czechoslovakia, all of which he won. Bikila entered the 1963 Boston Marathon and finished in just 5th place -- the only time in his career that he finished a marathon and did not win.[3] He returned to Ethiopia and he didn’t compete in another marathon until the one in Addis Ababa in 1964. He won this race, taking 2:23:14 to complete the course.

40 days prior to the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, during a training run near Addis, Abebe Bikila started to feel pain. Unaware of the cause of the pain, he attempted to overcome this pain but collapsed. He was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. He was operated on and shortly thereafter - even during his recovery period - he started jogging in the hospital courtyard at night.

1964 Summer Olympics

Abebe Bikila traveled to Tokyo but was not expected to compete. He did enter the marathon, this time wearing Puma shoes. While he had spoken with Kihachiro Onitsuka of the future Asics company, he was pursued actively by Adidas and Puma, ultimately deciding to wear Puma shoes. He used the same strategy as in 1960: to stay with the leaders until the 20 kilometer point, then slowly increase his pace. After 15 km he only had company from Ron Clarke of Australia and Jim Hogan of Ireland. Shortly before 20 km only Hogan was in contention and by 30 km, Bikila was 40 seconds in front of Hogan and two minutes in front of Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan in third place. He entered the Olympic stadium alone to the cheers of 70,000 spectators. He finished the marathon in a new world record time of 2:12:11:2, 4 minutes, 8 seconds in front of the silver medalist Basil Heatley of Great Britain. Kokichi Tsuburaya was third. He was the first athlete in history to win the Olympic marathon twice. After finishing he astonished the crowd: not appearing exhausted, he started a routine of stretching exercises. He later stated that he could have run another 10 kilometers.

1964 - 1968

Bikila returned to Ethiopia to a hero's welcome once again. He was again promoted by the Emperor, and he received his own car, a white Volkswagen Beetle.

1968 Olympics

Once again Bikila and Mamo Wolde were entered in the marathon (symbolically, Bikila was issued bib number 1 for this race). This time however Bikila had to leave the race after approximately 17 km, due to an injury in his right knee. According to Bud Greenspan's Favorite Stories, an Olympics documentary, Bikila broke a small bone in his foot a few days before the race. He watched his friend and long time running partner Mamo Wolde win. Mamo Wolde later stated that had Bikila not been injured, he would surely have won.[4]

1969 - 1973

In 1969, during civil unrest in Addis, Bikila was driving his Volkswagen Beetle when he had to swerve to avoid a group of protesting students. He lost control of his car and it landed in a ditch, trapping him. He was freed out of the car but the accident left him quadriplegic. He was operated on at the Stoke Mandeville hospital in England and his condition improved to paraplegic. Niskanen convinced him to compete in paraplegic archery competitions and Abebe joked that he would win the next Olympic marathon in a wheelchair.

Abebe was invited as a special guest to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich where he witnessed his countryman Mamo Wolde fail to match Bikila's twin marathon victories; Wolde finished third behind American Frank Shorter. After Shorter received his medal he went to Bikila to shake his hand.

On the 23 October 1973, Abebe Bikila died in Addis Ababa at the age of 41 from a cerebral hemorrhage, a complication related to the accident of four years earlier. He left behind his wife and four children. His funeral in Addis Ababa was attended by 75,000 and Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia proclaimed a national day of mourning for Ethiopia’s national hero.

A stadium in Addis Ababa is named in his honor. The American Community School of Addis Ababa dedicated its gymnasium to Abebe Bikila in the late 1960s. In August 2005, with the assistance of A Glimmer of Hope Foundation and its supporters Isabel and Dave Welland, an Oromo school named Yaya Abebe Bikila Primary Village School was erected in Bikila's honor by the local Mendida community. The school sits a few hundred meters from the remains of the village of Jato, Ethiopia.

Quotes

  • "I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism" [5]
  • "Men of success meet with tragedy. It was the will of God that I won the Olympics, and it was the will of God that I met with my accident. I accepted those victories as I accept this tragedy. I have to accept both circumstances as facts of life and live happily." [6]

In popular culture

Black & white film footage of Bikila winning a race opens the 1976 thriller Marathon Man.

References

  1. ^ Abebe Bikila
  2. ^ http://www.databaseolympics.com/players/playerpage.htm?ilkid=BIKILABE01 DatabaseOlympics profile
  3. ^ The Olympic Marathon by Martin and Gynn, ISBN 0880119691
  4. ^ Barefoot Runner by Rambali, ISBN 1852429046
  5. ^ Inconvenient truths by Teddy Fassberg. The Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2008
  6. ^ Added by L. Fufa, July, 2008 from A. Bikila's Biography:http://www.answers.com/topic/abebe-bikila

mentioned by robin william in his skit of weapons of destrustion for running barefoot in the olympics. In the next race sponsored by addidas he ran barefoot

External links

Records
Preceded by
Soviet Union Sergei Popov
Men's Marathon World Record Holder
September 10, 1960 – February 17, 1963
Succeeded by
Japan Toru Terasawa
Preceded by
United Kingdom Basil Heatley
Men's Marathon World Record Holder
October 21, 1964 – June 12, 1965
Succeeded by
Japan Morio Shigematsu
Sporting positions
Preceded by
United Kingdom Samuel Hardicker
Košice Men's Marathon Winner
1961
Succeeded by
Czechoslovakia Pavel Kantorek

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message