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Abebe Bikila
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    (August 7, 1932-October 25, 1973)
    Won two Olympic gold medals in the men's marathon (Rome, 1960 and Tokyo, 1964)
    He was a member of Emperor Haile Selassie's Imperial Guard.
    Affected by high altitude and previous injuries, he dropped out of the men's marathon in the 1968 Olympics (Mexico City) at about 10 miles (16,1 km).
    At the national armed forces championships in 1956, he pulled off a surprise upset over crowd favorite Wami Biratu (whose 5 km and 10 km records he would later shatter).
    When asked why he ran barefoot, he replied, ‘I wanted the world to know that my country Ethiopia has always won with determination and heroism.'
    He is credited as being the first African to win any Olympic medal.
    He ran the 1960 marathon in 2 hrs, 15 mins, and 16,2 seconds — barefoot.
    He donned shoes for the 1964 marathon, which he finished just over three minutes faster — and with his appendix removed six weeks previous.
    He received his inspiration from watching a parade of Ethiopian athletes competing at the 1956 Olympics (Melbourne).
    Haile Selassie attended his funeral.
    A ‘victory poem' was written in his honor two days after he died.
    The national stadium in Addis Ababa is named for him.

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