BIKILA Abebe (1932 - 1973) Ethiopia / Track and field
This marathon runner from the high plateaux of Ethiopia won the event at the 1960 Rome games, barefoot. His achievement went down in history. His exploits continued four years later in Tokyo, but this time he wore shoes. To this day, he and the Polish runner Cierpinski are the only two athletes to have managed to win this trying event twice in a row. His victories won him glory, money and respect in Ethiopia. Emperor Haile Selassie, whom he served as a member of the royal guard, promoted him to the rank of lieutenant and granted him a lifetime pension.Bikila was seriously injured in a car accident a few tears later, which left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Paralysed, he took part in the archery events in the Paralympic Games.He died in 1973 from a brain haemorrhage. The Emperor declared a state of national mourning for this Ethiopian hero.