Visual Encyclopedia

Abebe Bikila

Abebe Bikila (Amharic: አበበ ቢቂላ; August 7, 1932 – October 25, 1973) was an Ethiopian double Olympic marathon champion. He won the marathon event at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome while running barefoot. In doing so, he also set a new world marathon record. At the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo he became the first person to defend an Olympic marathon title, where his finish time again set a new world record. Abebe served as a member of the Imperial Guard. He originally joined as a non-commissioned officer, prior to his athletic career, and later rose to the rank of shambel (captain). In Ethiopia, he is formally referred to as Shambel Abebe Bikila (Amharic: ሻምበል አበበ ቢቂላ).

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