What made Abebe Bikila unique in the Olympic Games?

Abebe Bikila was a marathon runner from Ethiopia who was a late inclusion in the Ethiopian team to run the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics. As he was a late inclusion, the teams equipment supplies were running low and there was not a pair of running shoes that fitted him. He did reportedly buy another pair that gave him blisters. He decided to run the marathon barefoot. He went on to win the gold medal.

What is unique about his performance is that he is the first and only athlete to win a gold medal in the marathon running barefoot.

Abebe Bikila went on to also win the 1964 Tokyo Olympic marathon, this time wearing shoes. He is one of only 3 athletes to win 2 Olympic marathons. The other two were Waldemar Cierpinski from East Germany (1976 & 1980) and Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya (2016 & 2020).

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