That time when an Olympic marathoner won a gold medal running barefoot. Yes, barefoot.

This was quite a feat with his feet

Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, running barefoot, draws away from Abdesselem Rhadi of Morocco near the finish of the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He went on to win with a new Olympic record time of 2 hours 15 minutes 16 seconds. (Photo by Central Press)
Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, running barefoot, draws away from Abdesselem Rhadi of Morocco near the finish of the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He went on to win with a new Olympic record time of 2 hours 15 minutes 16 seconds. (Photo by Central Press) (Getty Images)

Abebe Bikila was the only marathoner in history to win an Olympic gold medal running barefoot, but that fact hides the more significant question: Someone actually won an Olympic gold medal in the marathon running BAREFOOT?

Yep, it really happened -- 60 years ago, Thursday.

Competing for Ethiopia, Bikila wasn’t even supposed to compete in those Rome Olympics in 1960, but he filled in for countryman Wami Biratu, who had to withdraw due to an injury suffered playing soccer, according to Inverse.

So Bikila went to Rome to compete, but only had a worn pair of tennis shoes that had been used for training.

The obvious solution was to get a new pair of shoes, but that turned into an issue when they gave him blisters.

The day of the race, Bikila decided to ditch any pair of shoes altogether and run the whole marathon barefoot.

Imagine the amazement of those in the crowd, who watched Bikila run on his bare feet through cobblestone streets and other hard surfaces throughout the race.

The jaws had to continue to drop when Bikila not only surged ahead in the later stages of the race, but ended up finishing first in what was then a world record of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 16.2 seconds.


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