Abebe Bilkila wasn't on the original Ethiopian team for the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He had only run two marathons in his life so his exclusion wasn't surprising. When the team needed a last minute replacement they called on Bilkila.
In the marathon, his third ever, he ran an unbelievable race and broke the world record. But what makes this story truely bizarre is he set a new record in his bare feet. The shoes his team provided were making his feet hurt so he decided to run the entire 26 miles barefoot.
He was the first East African to win an Olympic golf medal and did the same four years later in Tokyo (this time with shoes and socks), setting another record in the process.
Bilkila's success blazed a trail for all other African long distance runners their success is due in large part to him.
(Some information from this article was taken from Spiked)
Take a look at the 16 most bizarre Olympic moments in history:
Day 1 - Eric "The Eel" Moussambani
Day 2 - Betty Robinson
Day 3 - Sally Robbins
Day 4 - Abebe Bilkila
Day 5 - 1972 USA Basketball team
Day 6 - Bobby Pearce
Day 7 - Byun Jong-il
Day 8 - Stella Walsh
Day 9 - Spanish Paralympic Basketball Team
Day 10 - Ingeborg Marx
Day 11 - Vanderlei de Lima
Day 12 - Hans-Jurgen Todt
Day 13 - Liu Changchun
Day 14 - Dorando Pietri
Day 15 - 1956 Hungarian Water Polo Team
Day 16 - 1960 Tunisian Modern Pentathlon Team