Abebe Bikila to be inducted in IAAF Hall of Fame

Istanbul, Turkey – IAAF President Lamine Diack announced the creation of the IAAF Hall of Fame on the eve of the 14th edition of the IAAF World Indoor Championships, Istanbul 2012 (9-11 March).

To mark the IAAF Centenary, a total of 24 athletes, including Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, will become the inaugural Members of the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012, with the Official Induction Ceremony taking place at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona on Saturday 24 November 2012.

These 24 athletes will represent all IAAF Areas and include all major event groups (sprint, middle distance, long distance, hurdles, jumps, throws, combined events, race walk, and road running).

The first 12 athletes are announced today on the eve of the IAAF World Indoor Championships. The remaining 12 names will be made public between now and the IAAF Centenary Gala in a series of announcements to coincide with important Centennial events including the actual day of the IAAF Centenary (Tue 17 Jul) and the traditional IAAF Dinner (Thu 2 Aug) in London on the eve of the start of the Olympic Athletics programme.

The first 12 inaugural Members are:

  • Jesse Owens (USA) – 1936 100/200/LJ + WR 100, 200 & LJ (25 years)
  • Abebe Bikila (ETH) - 1960, 1964 Oly MAR + WR
  • Paavo Nurmi (FIN) – 1920 10,000, 1924 1500/5000 & 1928 10,000 + WR 1500, Mile, 3000, 5000 & 10,000
  • Carl Lewis (USA) – 1984 100/200/LJ & 1988/1992/1996 LJ + WR 100 + 5 world titles
  • Emil Zátopek (TCH) – 1948 10,000 & 1952 5000/10,000/Mar + WR 5000 & 10,000
  • Al Oerter (USA) – 1956/1960/1964/1968 DT + WR DT
  • Adhemar da Silva (BRA) – 1952/1956 TJ + WR TJ
  • Ed Moses (USA) – 1976/1984 400H + WR 400H (16 years) + 2 world titles
  • Fanny Blankers-Koen (NED) – 1948 100/200/80H + WR 100, 80H, HJ, LJ & Pen
  • Betty Cuthbert (AUS) – 1956 100/200 & 1964 400 + WR 200
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA) – 1988 LJ/Hep & 1992 Hep + WR LJ & Hep (25 years as at 7.7.2011) + 4 world titles
  • Wang Junxia (CHN) – 1996 Oly 5000 & 93 World 10,000 + WR 3000 (18 years as at 12.9.2011) & 10,000 (18 years as at 8.9.2011)

Hall of Fame Profile – Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia

Abebe Bikila’s marathon victory at the 1960 Olympic Games was the first time that an Olympic gold medal had been won by a black athlete representing an African nation.

His triumph in Rome became a beacon for the generations of African runners, particularly from East Africa, that followed in his footsteps in the subsequent decades.

Bikila ran barefoot through the Italian capital, an occasion made even more atmospheric by being the first Olympic marathon to be run at night, crossing the line in what was then a world best of 2:15:16.2.

Between 1960 and 1966, Bikila won 12 out of the 13 marathons he contested; his only loss coming at the 1963 Boston Marathon where he finished fifth.

Due to an appendectomy six weeks beforehand, Bikila was far from the sole favourite for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo but he proved his doubters wrong in emphatic fashion.

Now wearing running shoes, he forced the pace from 15km and had a clear lead by the halfway point, eventually crossing the line in 2:12:11.2, which took nearly two minutes off the previous world best.

Bikila also started the 1968 Olympic marathon but had to drop out at 17km due to leg problems.

In 1969, he tragically suffered a broken neck and spinal cord injuries in a car accident that confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

He died from a brain hemorrhage in 1973 at the age of just 41 but Bikila remains to this day an iconic name in athletics.

For more info, please visit IAAF website.