Here is an amazing story of success that all of us can learn from. It comes from one of the most amazing athlete that ran in the Olympics.
1960 Summer Olympics
Abebe Bikila 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 had broken his ankle in a soccer match. Major Onni Niskanen entered Bikila and Abebe Wakgira in the marathon.
Adidas, the shoe sponsor at the 1960 Summer Olympics, had few shoes left when Bikila 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, Bikila decided to run barefoot, the way he’d trained for the race.
Bikila was warned by Niskanen about his main rivals, one of whom was Rhadi Ben Abdesselam from Morocco, who was supposed to wear number 26.
For unknown reasons, Rhadi did not acquire his black marathon bib before the race, and instead was wearing his regularly assigned track and field bib number 185.
The late afternoon race had its start point and finish at the Arch of Constantine, just outside the Colosseum.
During the race Bikila passed numerous runners as he searched for Rhadi’s number 26.
By about 20 km, Bikila and Rhadi (actually wearing number 185) had created a gap from the rest of the pack. Bikila kept looking forward to find the runner with number 26, unaware that Rhadi was running right beside him.
They stayed together until the last 500 m, when Bikila sprinted to the finish line.
Bikila won in a record time of 2:15:16.2, becoming the first Sub-Saharan African to win an Olympic gold medal. He finished 25 seconds ahead of Rhadi.
After the race, when Bikila was asked why he had run barefoot, he replied :
“I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.”
Featured Image shows Bikila running ahead of Rhadi
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