Abebe Bikila was a marathon running from Ethiopia who won the 1960 Olympic Games marathon in Rome by running the entire race barefoot. He subsequently went on to also win again in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics marathon running in shoes.

Curated Resources:
http://www.runningheros.com/abebe-bikila/ (Running Heros)
http://podiapaedia.org/wiki/podiatrists/non-podiatrists/sports-people/abebe-bikila/ (PodiaPaedia)
http://www.podiatryabc.com/a-is-for-abebe-bikila/ (Podiatry ABC)

Abebe Bikila was a marathon runner from Ethiopia, winning dual Olympic gold medals: Paris, france in 1960 and in Tokyo in 1964. Abebe died in 1973 at the age of 41 as a result of issues after a car accident. There’s a athletic field in Addis Ababa named after him. Google recognized him with one of their doodles on which would have been his 81st birthday celebration on 7 August 2013.

1960 Olympic Marathon in Rome:
He was a last minute replacement in the Ethiopian squad for the Olympics. He had no footwear to run in and Adidas, the official benefactor simply had a handful of pairs left that didn’t fit Abebe, so he competed in the marathon barefoot (he previously had been training without running shoes). He won the race in a time of 2hr 15min. Right after the marathon, answering a question as to the reasons he competed barefoot, Abebe answered: “I wanted the whole world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.

1964 Olympic Marathon in Tokyo:
Forty days prior to the marathon Abebe was operated on for an serious appendicitis and at one stage it was thought that he might not be able to run. Abebe went on to get the Gold medal in this marathon in a world record time of 2hr 12min, becoming the 1st athlete to win two Olympic marathons. Abebe was wearing Puma shoes in the race (which Abebe also ran in to come 5th in the 1963 Boston Marathon).

He is a light to mild rearfoot striker with a few midfoot strikes as well. Despite that, he is not overstriding and could break a world record. Abebe is sometimes held up by the barefoot running online community as a hero for running the marathon without running shoes (along with other high level athletes). Critics of this like to mention that Abebe did run faster and break a world record when using footwear.

As part of his legacy, the minimalist athletic shoes producer, Vibram FiveFingers provide the Bikila model of their range named after abebe. Early in 2015, the descendants of Abebe Bikila announced they were beginning a law suit against Vibram for registering the ‘Bikila’ name without approval.

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