Mention any distance race today like an Olympic Marathon and it's almost a given that it will be won by someone from either Ethiopia or Kenya. Back in 1960, it was a different story as no African had ever won an Olympic Gold up to that point. All that changed in the Rome Olympics when Abebe Bikila from Ethiopia won the Marathon running barefoot in a time of 2h 15m 16s and became the first African athlete to win a Gold medal. Four years later in the 1964 Tokyo Games, Bikila defended his Olympic title by winning in a new world record time of 2h 12m 11s. Bikila had shown the way for runners from East Africa and today, they tend to dominate all of the distance events.
Over the weekend, Ian O'Riordan from the Irish Times had an interesting piece on Abebe Bikila HERE