He was married to Yewibdar Giorghis. He died on October 25, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After his victory in Rome, Selassie offered him a car, an apartment, and a pension for the rest of his life. Considered the greatest marathon runner of all time.
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Abebe Bikila — Ethiopian double Olympic marathon champion. He grew up in a typical village setting. He received some church education. In his youth, he was noted as a good swimmer, Guna player, a type of hockey played during Christmas, and a skillful horse rider. At the age of 17, he moved to the capital city, Addis Ababa, where he began a military carrier in the imperial bodyguard regiment. He was an Ethiopian double Olympic marathon champion.
He won the marathon at the Summer Olympics in Rome while running barefoot, setting a world record. At the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Abebe was the first athlete to successfully defend an Olympic marathon title, breaking his own world record in the process. He was a member of the Ethiopian Imperial Guard, an elite infantry division that safeguarded the Emperor of Ethiopia.
Enlisting as a soldier before his athletic career, he rose to the rank of shambel captain. His successes and wins made him one of the greatest marathoners in the world. He is also the first man to win the Olympics marathon twice and the first black man from Ethiopia to win an Olympics medal. He also participated in International Paraplegic Games in Norway as a paraplegic after facing a car accident. The story of his life was a source of inspiration for many people.
He was a pioneer in long-distance running. On March 22, , Abebe was paralyzed as a result of a car accident. Although he regained some upper-body mobility, he never walked again. Abebe competed in archery and table tennis at the Stoke Mandeville Games in London, an early predecessor of the Paralympic Games, while receiving medical treatment in England. He competed in both sports at a competition for the disabled in Norway and won its cross-country sleigh-riding event.
Abebe died at age 41 on October 25, , of a cerebral hemorrhage related to his accident four years earlier. He received a state funeral, and Emperor Haile Selassie declared a national day of mourning. Many schools, venues, and events, including Abebe Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa, are named after him. The subject of biographies and films documenting his athletic career, Abebe is often featured in publications about the marathon and the Olympics.
Abebe was the son of Wudinesh Beneberu and her second husband, Bikila Demissie. The family eventually moved back to Jato or nearby Jirru , where they had a farm. During the mids, Abebe ran 20 km 12 mi from the hills of Sululta to Addis Ababa and back every day. Onni Niskanen, a Swedish coach employed by the Ethiopian government to train the Imperial Guard, soon noticed him and began training him for the marathon.
Abebe Bikila began to prepare for the Olympics when he was 24 years old. Although the marriage was arranged by his mother, Abebe was happy and they remained married for the rest of his life. Abebe and Yewebdar had several children. Their eldest son Dawit was born c.
The son of a shepherd, Bikila began running at age He was little known outside of Ethiopia when he entered the Olympics and ran the marathon, barefoot, on the cobblestones of the Appian Way. Tied for the lead for much of the race, he broke ahead in the last 1, meters and crossed the finish line at the Arch of Constantine in 2 hours 15 minutes In July , Abebe won his first marathon in Addis Ababa.
In Rome, Abebe Bikila purchased new running shoes, but they did not fit well and gave him blisters. He consequently decided to run barefoot instead. Between 5 km 3 mi and 20 km 12 mi , the lead changed hands several times. By about 25 km 16 mi , however, Abebe and ben Abdesselam moved away from the rest of the pack.
Abebe and ben Abdesselam remained together until the last m 1, ft. Nearing the Obelisk again, Abebe sprinted to the finish. In the early evening darkness, his path along the Appian Way was lined with Italian soldiers holding torches. Immediately after crossing the finish line Abebe began to touch his toes and run in place, and later said that he could have run another 10—15 km 6—9 mi. Running with soft strides; Abebe became the lone runner leaving everyone behind.
He was already a favorite of the Japanese. He won the Mainichi marathon held in Osaka in June of Estimated by the police over a million spectators lined up in the streets cheered him at every step of the way. He won the race with a record time of 2 hours 12 minutes Once again, he crossed the track into the field and performed his stretching exercise.
He dazzled and astounded the 80, spectators. Basil Heatley came second followed by Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan in the stadium. Abebe had undergone an appendectomy 36 days before the Olympic. At the finish, he had shown no expression of fatigue nor convulsion or enthusiasm.
Abebe ran the Boston Marathon, finishing fifth in , the only time in his competitive career that he completed an international marathon without winning. He and countryman Mamo Wolde, who finished 12th, had run together on record pace for 18 miles until cold winds and the hills in Newton caused both to fall back.
Abebe returned to Ethiopia and did not compete in another marathon until in Addis Ababa. Abebe won that race in a time of In , he participated in the Japan Olympics, even though he had not recovered from his appendicitis surgery, and won a medal for his country, setting a world record as the first man to win the double-Olympics marathon. He entered the Olympics in Mexico City but was forced to drop out of the marathon with a broken leg after 10 miles. An automobile accident in left him a paraplegic.
Fighting took place in the heart of Addis Ababa, shells detonated in the Jubilee Palace, and many of those closest to the emperor was killed. Although Abebe was not directly involved, he was briefly arrested and questioned. Mengistu was later hanged, and his forces which included many members of the Imperial Guard were killed in the fighting, arrested or fled.
Abebe was the first athlete in history to successfully defend the Olympic marathon title. As of the Olympic marathon, Abebe and Waldemar Cierpinski are the only athletes to have won two gold medals in the event.
The emperor promoted him to the commissioned-officer rank of metoaleqa lieutenant. In a news conference after the event, Abebe predicted that he would win in the Olympic in Mexico City. Mexico City situated at a similar altitude to Addis Ababa. While training before the Zarauz competition Abebe hurt his leg. He competed in the race but failed to finish the course. He was sent to Germany for the necessary treatment by the Emperor; however, the discomfort to his leg was recurring during training.
Very much confident, he arrived in Mexico City with the intention of winning and defending his Olympic title for the third time. He started in the leading pack running ahead most of the way. Many were certain that Abebe would win a gold medal. Nevertheless, his injury to his leg could not take the pain anymore. As the pain became unbearable, he decided to leave the competition. The responsibility of winning a gold medal for Ethiopia is in your shoulder. Mamo Wolde took the lead running alone with a little competition from the rest of the athletes and finished the race in the first place in 2 hours 20 minutes and They carried a parchment scroll with greetings from Haile Selassie.
In he ran marathons at Zarautz and Inchon—Seoul, winning both. He had injured his hamstring, an injury from which he would never recover. Abebe had begun to limp, and the Incheon—Seoul Marathon was the last marathon he ever completed.
In while traveling back from his hometown Abebe had a tragic car accident. Realized by the Emperor that he could not successfully be treated at the local medical facility, he was sent to the Stoke Mandeville hospital in England.
After eight months of treatment, he returned to Ethiopia in a wheelchair. Upon his return, he was welcomed by a cheering crowd. His physical limit never made him give up his love for the sport. His competitive spirits never diminished. In , Abebe began training for wheelchair-athlete archery competitions. The following April, Abebe participated in games for the disabled in Norway. Although he had been invited as a guest, he competed in archery and table tennis and defeated a field of sixteen in cross-country sled dog racing with a time of In , he was invited to the Munich Olympic Games as a special guest.
He was received by standing ovation as he entered the stadium in a wheelchair. In remembrance of his fortieth birthday, a gala celebration was held at the Olympic village in the presence of athletes and officials of the organization. Awards and Honor Abebe Bikila was the first African to win the Olympic marathon gold medal and is known as the first athlete to win two Olympic gold medals in the marathon.
He wins his 1st Olympic gold medal in Rome Summer Games. A second Olympics gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics. Abebe was the winner of many other marathons including the marathon in Kosice, Zarauz, South Korea, Otsu, and the 20, meters marathon in Copenhagen. Death and Legacy Abebe Bikila and Mamo Wolde — statues in their prime Girum Seifu On October 25, , Abebe died in Addis Ababa at age 41 of a cerebral hemorrhage, a complication related to his accident four years earlier.
Abebe Bikila Summary Abebe Bikila is an Ethiopian legendary marathon runner, the first African to win a gold medal and set a new record at the Olympics. In the Summer Olympic Games in Rome, to the surprise of many, Abebe run the marathon bare foot in the cobblestone roads of Rome, and set a world record. He then run in in the Olympics in Tokyo and not only defended his title but also bested his own record in the distance. Abebe is considered as a sign of resilience and commitment.
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See Article History Abebe Bikila, born August 7, , Mont, Ethiopia—died October 25, , Addis Ababa , Ethiopian marathon runner who won a gold medal and set a world record while running barefoot at the Olympic Games in Rome , then bested his own record at the Olympics in Tokyo. He was the first athlete to win two Olympic marathons. The son of a shepherd, Bikila began running at age He was little known outside of Ethiopia when he entered the Olympics and ran the marathon, barefoot, on the cobblestones of the Appian Way. Tied for the lead for much of the race, he broke ahead in the last 1, metres and crossed the finish line at the Arch of Constantine in 2 hours 15 minutes Four years later he underwent an appendectomy 40 days before the Tokyo Olympics. Nevertheless, he won a second gold medal, running the marathon—this time wearing shoes—in 2 hours 12 minutes
Abebe Bikila — Ethiopian double Olympic marathon champion. He grew up in a typical village setting. He received some church education. In his youth, he was noted as a good swimmer, Guna player, a type of hockey played during Christmas, and a skillful horse rider.