1960 Rome Olympics: Abebe Bikila became first black African Olympic champion
Ethiopian athlete Abebe Bikila (No.11) runs barefoot for victory in the Rome 1960 Olympic Games marathon. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
ROME eventually got to host the Olympics in 1960, more than 50 years after it was supposed to do for the first time. The capital of Italy was awarded the administration of the 1908 edition but it had to pass the honour to London because of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906.
The erstwhile Soviet Union got most medals in Rome, beating their Cold War competitor United States who finished second, for the second time in a row. The USSR finished with 103 medals, including 43 golds, 29 silvers and 31 bronzes while the US finished with 71 medals that included 34 golds. Hosts Italy finished third with 36 medals that included 13 golds.
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Here are some fun facts related to the 1960 Olympics held in Rome:
• An Olympic Stadium, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and the track-and-field events, was built along with a Sports Palace. Besides, several ancient sites were restored and used as venues during the games.
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• Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila won the marathon at Rome barefoot and became the first black African Olympic champion.
• Legendary American boxer Muhammad Ali (originally Cassius Clay) won the light heavyweight gold medal.
• The Rome Games was the last Olympics in which South Africa were allowed to participate until 1992 because of Apartheid.
• The Rome Games were broadcast live in 18 European nations and with a few hours delay in the US, Canada and Japan.
• The International Olympic Committee had decided in 1958 to adopt the anthem composed by Spyros Samaras as the official Olympic anthem. It was played in Rome for the first time.