The Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) has announced the launch of ‘Abebe Bikila Scholarship’, which aims to empower women in sports by providing a fully funded higher education scholarship for two women athletes/coaches annually.
 
This decision comes after the executive committee of EAF agreed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the legendary athlete’s impressive barefoot marathon victory at the Rome Olympic Games. The special memorial event of the victory will take place in the presence of athletes and their families who have represented Ethiopia in the modern Olympic Games, starting from its maiden participation at the 1956 Melbourne Games.  
 
Following his 2:15:16 World Record Olympic marathon victory in Rome, Abebe became the first African athlete to win a gold medal in the Games’ history, and an inspiration to fellow countrymen and Africans that follow in his footsteps to excel at the international athletics arena.
 
A back-to-back Olympic marathon champion in 1960 and ‘64, Abebe Bikila is so far the only athlete to defend his marathon victory at the Olympic Games – both were World Record times. He also managed to win 12 out of the 14 marathons he completed. Since the 1980’s, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation has also been organising an annual marathon event named after the legendary athlete, who passed away in 1973 at the age 41 due to cerebral haemorrhage.
 
Haileegziabher Adhanom - AIPS Member (Photo by AFP)