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Abibi Bikila

First Black African to win Golds in 1960 and 1964 Olympics:

Ethiopia, People's Democratic Republic, formerly also known as Abyssinia is a country in East Africa, bordered North East by Djibouti and the Red Sea, East and South East by Somalia South by Kenya and West and North West by Sudan, It consists an area of 1,221,900 sq km/ 471,653 sq miles. It's a high plateau with central mountain range divided by Rift Valley and the plains in the East; source of Blue Nile River.

In Olympic history, Ethiopia occupies a very prominent place in Marathon running as they were undisputed world champions of the long distance Mega Event in the 1960's.

Ethiopian Abibi Bikila brought fame and glory to his country Ethiopia, by winning the Gold Medals consecutively in the years of 1960 and 1964. In 1968, another Ethiopian Marathon Runner, Mamo Walde annexed the gold medal. Probably, the physical geography of Ethiopia and its challenging hard grueling life probably helped them to be tough competitors. These factors probably helped them to achieve these great achievements.

Representing an African country, Bikila, created history by becoming the First Black African to win a Gold Medal in Olympic games. Further, he was the only Black African to win a Marathon Race consecutive in Olympics in 1960 (Rome) and in 1964 (Japan) respectively. It was undoubtedly a marvelous, unique achievement.

Abibi Bikila, the Ethiopian word means blooming flower. This "Flower" spread its sweetness, and its fragrance all over the world and brought credit to Ethiopia.

He served as a security officer of Emperor Hail-Silasi. In a matter of a day after annexing a gold in the Marathon Event, in 1960, his name Abibi Bikila became internationally known more than his Emperor name - Hail-silasi.

When the 28 year old Ethiopian represented the 1960 Rome Olympics, he was not know to the world. When all the other competitors were running with shoes, this raw athlete Bikila ran bare-footed. Therefore, at the commencement of the race no one ever cared for him. When Bikila won a gold winning the Marathon Race with a new record, many could not believe their own eyes. His determination, commitment, courage, brought him rich dividends. He practised in high plateau regions in the central mountain ranges under difficult and trying conditions.

He was a determined and a courageous athlete. Before one and half months prior to 1964 Olympic Games in Rome, Bikila underwent surgery. This operation never hampered his determination and goal. In this marathon held in Tokyo, Japan, he ran with shoes, and here too established a new record.

This born Marathon runner was 36 years when he participated in the olympic games held in 1968. Once a reporter considering his age in a press briefing questioned "what are your chances at Mexico."

Bikila replied "Although I am 36, I still train hard. I know even Mexico is geographical like Ethiopia as far as Mountain Ranges are concerned. In Ethiopia, I train so hard and run in these high plateaus of 7000 feet in height. I cover them easily. Therefore, I am determined to win my third gold in the Marathon Race in Mexico in 1968."

At the Mexico Olympics, Bikila was in front from the start. He ran rhythmically and smoothly. When passing the 17th kilometre, he fractured his bone in the left foot and he was unable to take part in the race any more. He motivated his fellow Ethiopian runner Mamo Walde and said "Mamo, do not let the country down. Put the country before self." Walde won the gold medal and kept the Ethiopian Flag flying high for the third time, consecutively.

During the period from 1960 to 1966, Bikila took part in 13 Marathon Races and won 12 times. In appreciation of his victories, Ethiopian Govt, presented a motor car to him. In 1969, he met with a car accident and damaged and sustain severe injuries to his legs. By this unfortunate accident, his movements were restricted to a wheel chair inside the boundary walls of his house. In 1973, the great Marathon Runner Abibi Bikila died due to a haemmorage in the brain.

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