Modern Olympic Games
The modern Olympic games have been around for more than one century. There have been many respectable games throughout this time for many reasons, but one of the most defining Olympics in history are the 1960 Olympic Games. The 1960 Olympics took place in Rome, Italy from August 25 – September 11. The games featured 5,338 athletes competing in 150 events for 83 different countries. The 1960 Olympic games had many firsts for humankind, as well as many great athletes like Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph, and Abebe Bikila who all crossed amazing milestone.
In 1960, Cassius Clay was an 18 year old boxer from the United States. He travelled to Rome that year to compete in the Olympics in the light heavyweight division. Despite being so young, he won the gold medal with ease after defeating Poland’s Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, Australia’s Anthony Madigan, and Italy’s Giulio Saraudi. His performance gained him international attention and after the Olympics, Clay turned professional and won the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time. At about the same time, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Wilma Rudolph was diagnosed with Polio when she was about four years old, and was told she would never walk again.
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Despite being told this, she overcame her disease and began to hop, then walk, and eventually be able to play basketball. When she was almost 16 years old, Wilma Rudolph competed in the 1956 Olympics in Australia to and won a bronze medal in the 4×100 meter relay. Four years later, she travelled to Rome for the 1960 games. There, she won gold in the individual 100 meter, individual 200 meter, and the 4×100 meter relay. After winning all of the golds, she was given the title “the fastest woman in the world”. She was also known as one of the greatest athletes in the 20th century because of her performance in Rome.
Abebe Bikila was not originally selected for the 1960 Ethiopian Olympic team, but was asked to join after one of their athletes was injured. Reluctantly, he travelled to Rome in 1960 to compete in the marathon. When Abebe got to Rome, he quickly discovered that none of the shoes there fit him right, so he decided to run the marathon barefoot. Despite this decision, Bikila won the marathon by 200 meters and set a world record in the process. He captured Ethiopia’s first and only Olympic medal at the 1960 Olympics, and also became the first Sub-Saharan African to win an Olympic gold medal.
Abebe became the first person to win two consecutive Olympic marathons when he won gold four years later, winning by four minutes and setting another world record. In 1964, he very smartly decided to wear shoes during the race. During the 1960 Olympics, there were many firsts for the world and and for the Olympic Games. To start, the 1960 Olympics were the first games to be televised in all of Europe, and the first to be televised in all of North America. The 1960 Winter Olympics were the first to be televised in the United States, just six months earlier. Italy’s Raimondo D’inzeo and Piero D’inzeo were the first ever pair of brothers to get gold and silver in the same event. Both brothers were also the first athletes to participate in eight Olympic Games.
The greatest first for the Olympics would be that the official Olympic anthem was first played in Rome. This anthem was composed by Spiros Samaras in the late 1800s and has been played at every Olympics since 1960. The 1960 Olympic Games in Rome were one of the most defining Olympics in history for many reasons. Athletes who crossed big milestones like Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph, and Abebe Bikila, and the fact that there were so many distinctive firsts is what make the 1960 Olympics so important.