Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Abebe Bikila's 1960 Olympic marathon in Rome

The Olympic Marathon in Rome 1960 was unusual for several reasons:
  • Abebe Bikila didn't like any of the running shoes provided by the official shoe sponsor Adidas, so he chose to run barefoot (he had trained barefoot in Ethiopia).
  • Bikila was chosen at last moment for the Ethiopian Olympic Team by their coach Onni Niskanen.
  • Coach Niskanen told Bikila to watch for competitor number 26, but for some reason this main opponent Rhadi ben Abdesselem of Morocco wore another number (185), so Bikila didn't know who he was during the race.
  • This is the only Olympic marathon that didn't start or finish inside a stadium.
  • The race was scheduled very late, so it was finished after sunset.
  • Bikila's winning time 2:15:16 was a World Record, and is still the second fastest barefoot marathon (Shivnath Singh set the current barefoot marathon record in 1978 with 2:12:00).

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