At the Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila made history with his gold medal win, he also set a new record all while running the marathon in bare feet.
Abebe was added to the Ethiopian Olympic team only at the last moment, as the plane to Rome was about to leave, as a replacement for Wami Biratu, who was seriously ill.
Adidas, the shoe sponsor at the 1960 Summer Olympics, had few shoes left when Abebe went to try out shoes and he ended up with a pair that didn’t fit comfortably, so he couldn’t use them. A couple of hours before the race, Abebe decided to run barefoot, the way he’d trained for the race.
The last 500 m of the marathon, Abebe sprinted to the finish line. Abebe won in a record time of 2:15:16.2 and made history.
After the race, when Abebe was asked why he had run barefoot, he replied, “I wanted the whole world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.”