Abebe Bikila 1960, 64& Feyisa Lilesa 2016


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Somali residents welcome Ethiopian troops after rebel rout | Top News | Reuters

Ethiopian soldiers stand guard outside a compound where Ethiopian officials were holding a news conference in Mogadishu, January 8, 2009. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
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By Kumerra Gemechu

BAIDOA, Somalia (Reuters) - After three years of killings and violence under the rule of al Shabaab rebels, residents of the Somali city of Baidoa said they were happy to see the arrival of Ethiopian soldiers, whose presence they once resented.

Under al Shabaab's control, Baidoa's leaders say the city's people became poorer, conditions worsened and many were forced to flee. The return of Ethiopian troops, once seen as Christian invaders in a Muslim country, was a welcome relief.

Ethiopian and Somali troops seized the city from al Shabaab insurgents last month, in a major blow to the militants battling Somalia's weak interim government.

Somalia has been in turmoil since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Fighting has killed more than 21,000 people since al Shabaab launched its insurgency in 2007.

"Al Shabaab colonised us for three years and 12 days. Many of us were killed, many of us were displaced and many have migrated. So we are the survivors," Mohammed Ma'alim Barhi, a clan leader, told reporters in the city 250 km northwest of Mogadishu.

"They (Ethiopian troops) have entered here three times before. Now we like them, we support them and we are with them."

Al Shabaab, which announced in February that it was merging with al Qaeda, imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic sharia law. In areas under its control, music, movies and soccer were banned and people were beheaded or had limbs amputated as punishments.

"Before, there was a strong propaganda against the Ethiopians but these three years there are many things the people saw. There was over-taxation, they are killing people," Abdifatah Mohamed Gesey, governor for Bay region, said of the insurgents

Abebe Bikila: The Ethiopian Marathoner Who Wore No Shoes - Olympics - Yahoo! Sports

The 1960 Olympic Games are given a historic makeover, as the events are held in Rome, Italy, a venue rich with ancient history.
With history serving as a backdrop for this Olympiad, it was only fitting that more history be made at these Games. Ethiopian marathon runner, Abebe Bikila, was primed for the challenge. At this Olympics, Bikila became the first black African Olympic champion. Representing Ethiopa, Bikila prepared intensely for the 1960 Games—so intensely that he suffered a blister on his foot, only days before the competition. Rather than be compromised by this injury, Abebe decided to run the marathon in bare feet. His competitors snickered at the sight of a marathon runner with no shoes.
he race was started at Campidglio Square and a sneakerless Abebe was not running with the leaders until the 15-kilometer mark, where he started to gain momentum. By the 20-kilometer mark, there were only two leaders: Abebe and Abdesselem Rhadi of Morocco, who was considered among the favorites for gold. At the 35-kilometer mark Abebe and Rhadi were running neck and neck. But with 1 kilometer left, Abebe pulled away, setting a new record of 2 hours 15 minutes and 16.25 seconds, improving the old record by about eight minutes. With bare feet, Abebe made his historic footprint on these Games.
During the next four years, Abebe competed in several marathons, but sealed his name in the record books at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. This time he wore shoes, and this time Abebe ran with the leaders of the pack, right from the start. At the 20-kilometer mark, he pulled himself away from the front runners, and from that point on, he never looked back. He won gold with a time of 2 hours 12 minutes 11.2 seconds, beating his own Rome record. When he crossed the finish line, he showed no signs of fatigue, convulsion or joy, he simply performed stretching exercises, as if no marathon had been run. Abebe became the first man in history to win back-to-back marathons.
Abebe was confident he could do it a third time in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, however dropped out of the race at the 15-kilometer mark, due to a leg injury. It is reported he told fellow Ethiopian runner Mamo Wolde, "I cannot continue running because I am seriously ill. The responsibility of winning a gold medal for Ethiopia is in your shoulder." At that point Wolde took the lead, and eventually the gold.
In 1969 Abebe was in a tragic car accident that left him a paraplegic. Never bittered by his situation, or left with a heart closed to competition and sport, Abebe strengthened his hands and made them skilled as an Archer. In 1970, he also participated in a 25KM cross-country sledge competition in Norway, where he won the gold.
He was grateful for his gifts and never one to ask why. Sadly, his young body gave out and he died tragically at the age of 41. Abebe was an Ethiopian and universal hero of the grandest kind.
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Updated 11 hours
Abebe Bikila the Legend
It is a thriller rare in modern Olympics. With amazing grace he changed the Olympic Marathon leaving colorful footsteps forever. First he ran barefooted then in shoes.
Early Life
Abebe Bikila was born in 1932 in the North Showa region of Ethiopia, in a village called Jato. He grew up in a typical village setting. He received some church education. In his youth, he was noted as a good swimmer, Guna player, a type of hockey played during Christmas, and a skillful horse rider. At the age of 17 he moved to the capital city, Addis Ababa, where he began a military carrier in the imperial bodyguard regiment.
Athletic Career
To keep the troops physically fit, the army unit had regular sport activities. This program gave him a chance to develop his natural talent for sport. Later on as a symbol of unity the armed forces established a yearly sport competition event, which was designed to reunite the three forces, The Army, The Air Force and The Navy in shared activities. In his first Annual National Army Athletic competition, he finished the race in 2 hours 39 minutes and 50 seconds. That opened a new chapter in his life. He was noted by the Swedish coach Onni Niskanen who was then a director of athletics under the ministry of education and later an official of the Red Cross.
With the assistance of Niskanen, Abebe made an intensive preparation for the 1960 Rome Olympics. Abebe Wakijera was the only other athlete who qualified to go to Rome besides Abebe Bikila. Just days before the competition, Abebe had a blister in his foot due to running with a new shoe. Some had claimed that he used to train on barefoot. However, it was absolutely not true. He decided to run barefoot only as a result of inconvenience. Sergey Popov of Russia, who was the world record holder, Abdesselem Rhadi of Morocco, who won the international race that same year and another notable, Barry Maggee, of New Zealand were among the participants and the favorites to win the race.
The race began at Campidoglio Square. Abebe kept running close but was not in the leaders pack until they approached the 10 kilometer mark. By the 15 kilometers, he gained momentum and joined the leaders group. By then the competition came down to four people which included Rhadi and Arthur Kelly of Britain followed by the Belgian Van den Dreissche and Abebe Bikila. At the 20th kilometer mark Abebe and Rahdi were running side by side leaving everybody behind them. They passed the 35th kilometer mark running neck to neck. With 1 kilometer left, Abebe Bikila drew away. The distance between the two front runners gradually grew. Running strongly Abebe Bikila finished the race with a new record time of 2 hours 15 minutes and 16.25 second improving the previous record that was set at Helsinki in 1952 by about 8 minutes.
When Niskanen was later asked by a reporter if he was surprised by Abebe's victory, he replied that he was not and he added that "others do not know Abebe as I do. He has no fear for his rivals. He has strong willpower and dedication. There is none like Abebe I had ever seen. Abebe was made by Abebe, not by me or anyone."
In the following years he participated in several international competitions. However, the competition that gained him more fame in the history of the Olympics came four years later at the Tokyo Olympics. The 18th Olympic Game, the first in Asia was spectacularly organized. The marathon was highly regarded by the Japanese as a real test of human endurance compare to a life-long journey.
The race started with sixty-eight world class athletes. Immediately Ron Clark of Australia and the Irishman Jim Hogan took the lead pack. This time running with shoes, Abebe stayed close in the front lead. Gradually he advanced and at the 20th kilometer mark he became first opening gap between himself and the other two front runners.
Running with soft strides; Abebe became the lone runner leaving everyone behind. He was already a favorite of the Japanese. He won the Mainichi marathon held in Osaka in June of 1961. Estimated by the police over a million spectators lined up in the streets cheered him at every step of the way. He won the race with a record time of 2 hours 12 minutes 11.2 second improving his own record time in Rome. Once again, he crossed the track into the field and preformed his stretching exercise. He dazzled and astounded the 80,000 spectators. Basil Heatley came second followed by Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan in the stadium. Abebe had undergone an appendectomy 36 days before the Olympic. At the finish, he had showed no expression of fatigue nor convulsion or enthusiasm.
In a news conference after the event Abebe predicted that he would win in the 1968 Olympic in Mexico City. Mexico City situated at a similar altitude to Addis Ababa. While training before the 1967 Zarauz competition Abebe hurt his leg. He competed in the race but failed to finish the course. He was sent to Germany for the necessary treatment by the Emperor; however the discomfort to his leg was recurring during training.
Very much confident, he arrived in Mexico City with the intention of winning and defending his Olympic title for the third time. He started in the leading pack running ahead most of the way. Many were certain that Abebe would win a gold medal. Nevertheless, his injury to his leg could not take the pain any more. As the pain became unbearable, he decided to leave the competition. It was reported that he encouraged Mamo Wolde who was in the race, "I cannot continue running because I am seriously ill. The responsibility of winning a gold medal for Ethiopia is in your shoulder." At the 15 kilometer mark Abebe dropped out of the race. Mamo Wolde took the lead running alone with a little competition from the rest of the athletes and finished the race in the first place in 2 hours 20 minutes and 26.4 seconds.
In 1969 while traveling back from his home town Abebe had a tragic car accident. Realized by the Emperor that he could not successfully be treated at the local medical facility, he was sent to the Stoke Mandeville hospital in England. After eight months of treatment he returned to Ethiopia in a wheelchair. Upon his return he was welcomed by a cheering crowd. His physical limit never made him give up his love for sport. His competitive sprits never diminished.
It was at the hospital in Stoke Mandeville that he strengthened his hands and made them skilled. Two years later, 1971, he entered in a paraplegic sport competition in England competed in Archery among hundred competitors he finished seventh. In that same year he participated in the International Paraplegic Games in Norway. He competed in dog sled race and finished first. As a result of his achievements as an outstanding marathoner and paraplegic sport person, he was respected and received with warm welcome by fans, officials and Presidents alike around the world.
In 1972, he was invited to the Munich Olympic Games as a special guest. He was received by standing ovation as he entered the stadium in a wheelchair. In remembrance of his fortieth birthday a gala celebration was held at the Olympic village in the presence of athletes and officials of the organization.
Abebe Bikila died In 1973 October 20 at the age of 41. He was buried at the St. Joseph cemetery. An estimated of 75,000 mourners, His majesty, members of the royal families, ambassadors as well as local and international reporters attended the state funeral.
I win first and foremost for the honor of my country
I run as I possibly could, Victory comes from God
In the days of my victory I had faith enough to thank the Lord, now as well; I should not but accept my accident in Grace
International Championships
Berlin196210,000 Meters2nd
Copenhagen196220,000 Meters1st1.11.00
South Korea1966Marathon1st2.17.04