The Athlete

  • “The Athlete”

When barefoot Ethiopian runner Adebe Bikila won the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics, he became the first black African Olympic gold medal winner in history. A car crash during a 1969 student protest in Addis Ababa left Bikila quadriplegic, but he continued competing in archery and dog sledding after his injury.

Filmmaker Rasselas Lakew, who came to the US from Ethiopia on a tennis scholarship, plays Bikila in the biopic The Athlete. The film, which Lakew codirected with Davey Frankel, screens Tuesday 10/13 and Saturday 10/17 in the 45th Chicago International Film Festival.