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Etenesh Diro, Shoeless Olympian, Blazes Into Steeplechasing Finals

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No shoes? No problem For Etenesh Diro.

Representing Ethiopia in the Rio Olympics, Diro was leading in the women's 3000-metre steeplechase gold qualifier when the unthinkable happened.

The track-and-field athlete was knocked from behind and caught in a collision with other runners. The jostling caused Diro's right running shoe to start slipping off, the Associated Press reports.

Diro wasted several seconds trying to re-fasten her shoe. Deciding it was a lost cause, she threw her sneaker away, NBC reports. A few steps later, she slipped her sock off too.

etenesh diro

Diro ran for three laps without a shoe, jumping over vaults and splashing through water.

etenesh diro

etenesh diro

She sped past other runners, overtaking them as the crowd cheered for the determined shoeless athlete.

etenesh diro

After crossing the finish line, Diro collapsed on the ground visibly distraught.

etenesh diro
Olympic officials helping steeplechaser Etenesh Diro stand up.

Although Diro placed seventh, Twitter was amazed with her indomitable attitude.

Olympic officials were impressed too. NBC reports that after an appeal from Team Ethiopia, as well as teams belonging to the advancing steeplechasers, Diro will be advancing to the steeplechase finals. She joins Jamaica's Aisha Praught and Ireland's Sara Treacy in pursuit of steeplechaser gold on Monday.

Diro's shoeless scamper was following the footsteps of Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila, who won Olympic gold in 1968 while running barefoot. The first East African to win a medal at the Games, Bikila wasn't able to find shoes that fit him before the race.

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