Rhadi Ben Abdesselam

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Rhadi Ben Abdesselam
Rhadi Ben Abdesselam, Abebe Bikila 1960.jpg
Rhadi Ben Abdesselam (left) and Abebe Bikila at the 1960 Olympics
Personal information
Born28 February 1929 in
Ksar es Souk, Morocco
Died4 October 2000 (aged 71)
Fez, Morocco
Height180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight65 kg (143 lb)
Event(s)10,000 m, marathon
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)10,000 m – 29:20.8 (1960)
Marathon – 2:15:41.6 (1960)[1]

Rhadi Ben Abdesselam (Arabic: راضي بن عبد السلام‎; 28 February 1929 – 4 October 2000) was a Moroccan long-distance runner. He competed at the 1960 Olympics in the marathon and 10,000 meters events.[1]

He also ran in the International Cross Country Championships in 1958–1963. In March 1960, he and Belgium's Gaston Roelants quickly broke away from the field, and he became the first African athlete to win the individual gold medal in that event, defeating Roelants by 40 yards.[2]

On September 8, 1960, he finished in 14th place in the finals-only 10,000 meters, in 29:32.0, almost a minute behind the winner, the Soviet Union's Pyotr Bolotnikov, who broke the Olympic record for the event.[3]

Just two days later, the blazing pace through the first 20 kilometers in the marathon helped result in an eventual world record for the barefoot winner, Ethiopia's Abebe Bikila. After they dispatched the rest of the field by 25 kilometers, the leading pair stayed stride-for-stride until the final 500 meters, with Ben Abdesselam finishing a close second in 2:15:41.6, 25.4 seconds behind Abebe's new world record. Abebe's mark trimmed 8/10ths of a second off Sergei Popov's world record of 2:15:17.0, set in 1958. Ironically, Abebe had been advised to watch out for Ben Abdesselam, but the latter wore his 10,000 meter competition number, so Abebe was unaware of the identity of his pursuer.[2] Popov finished 5th in Rome, two minutes behind New Zealand's Barry Magee, who took the bronze medal.[4]

Benaïssa competing at the 1960 Summer Olympics, near the 10-kilometre mark
The 1960 Olympic marathon's lead pack, near the 10 km (6 mi) mark, with eventual winner Abebe Bikila (#11), following Ireland's Bertie Messitt (#58), Ben Abdesselam's teammate Bakir Benaïssa (wearing headband), Great Britain's Arthur Keily (#46), Belgium's Aurèle Vandendriessche (#36), and Ben Abdesselam (#185).

1960 Olympic Marathon You Tube video[edit]

Légende du Sport Marocain: Feu Abdeslam Radi


  1. ^ a b Rhadi Ben Abdesselam. Sports Reference.
  2. ^ a b Hutchinson, Andrew Boyd (January 2018). The Complete History of Cross-Country Running: From the Nineteenth Century to the Present Day. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. pp. 89, 99. ISBN 978-1-631-44076-2.
  3. ^ "Athletics at the 1960 Rome Games: Men's 10,000 metres". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Athletics at the 1960 Rome Summer Games: Men's Marathon". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 2 January 2017.