Haile & farewell to the King

I’ve been a huge fan of Gebrselassie since the beginning of his international career.

The circumstances that he arose from, the associated overwhelming odds that he overcame, and the heights of his ability are beyond extraordinary.

There was a wonderful movie/documentary made “Endurance” to elucidate these very facts: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120659/

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. The ending is incredible and chokes me up every time.

His is one of those stories, maybe THE story, that you share with someone, particularly an athlete, who is feeling sorry for themselves and finding excuses for why they can’t do this and that.

A dominant world beater humanitarian who rose from absolutely nothing with no support to earn the title of the greatest distance runner of all time.

Honor Him

When I was in Addis Ababa he was nice enough to invite me to his home for lunch and coffee ceremony. Sincere, smart and a god in Ethiopia - a country which was/is a basket-case yet he refused to live anywhere else.

That must have been some experience. You are a fortunate man.

GReat article Kit Kat
You have had lots of interesting friends along away and thanks for sharing them with us as always.

GReat article Kit Kat
You have had lots of interesting friends along away and thanks for sharing them with us as always.

agree, so when is your book about it all out? :stuck_out_tongue:

A true track and field legend. Crossed all borders of events and people.

Enjoy your retirement Haile.

I would love to spend time with KK and listen to his stories, experience and coaching expertise.

Thanks all, I love it here on Charlie and Ange’s site and will continue to share whatever I have… for starters, along the way, I did go to Addis Ababa and I will post a story I wrote on meeting Haile, but it was written before the Sydney Olympics, so please take that into account… I hope you like the story which attempts to place Haile in context of the Ethiopian experience:

By Kitkat

It is dawn on the parched Entoto plateau overlooking Addis Ababa. Curious donkeys lift their heads out of brittle yellowed speargrass as the equally gaunt and hardened figure of a man runs past.

His light and cautious gait leaves no foot prints on pale brown earth hardened by recalcitrant Ethiopian drought and corrugated by a million treacherous striations: the naked ribs of a tortured land.

Even the air is undernourished here, lacking oxygen 3km above sea level.

Breathing is difficult enough just walking much less haring across the country for an hour, although the familiar aroma of eucalyptus invigorates the athlete.

“It is the scent of the Bahit Zaf - ‘tree which comes on the sea’ - and it came from Australia,” explained Haile Gebrselassie, the thin man who by 7.30am has completed the first of his two training sessions this day.

Gebrselassie, 27, a sparrow-hawk of a man at 164cm (5ft 3in) and 53kg is arguably Africa’s greatest athlete - ever.
He has set 15 world records and is current owner of the records for 5000m and 10,000m. He is the favourite for both events at the Sydney Olympics in September.

He has won the last four world titles for 10,000mand is the defending Olympic champion at the distance. He has not lost a race in the 25-lap event since 1993 and has taken half a minute off the world record set by his predecessor, all of which proposes him as the world’s greatest ever at 10,000m.

If things go to plan in Sydney, he may then be recognised as history’s greatest track long distance runner although he would need to win the 5000m in September.

To that end he continues training on top of Entoto where the rarified air enhances a runner’s endurance capacity as the blood adapts by producing more oxygen-carrying haemoglobin.

And every day he is reminded of his Australian destination by the Bahit Zaf, gum trees imported as seed by a merchant advisor to Emperor Menelik II who established Ethiopia’s modern independence by routing the Italian army in 1896 - the year of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens.

"The King gave seedlings to his people and he said, ‘Treat them as you would your own children,’ " explained Gebrselassie sternly.

“You know, it is a wonderful gift from your country because when you cut it down it grows back very quickly with twice as many branches. The people use the wood for building, for lighting cooking fires. It is very important to them.”

It was on Entoto that Menelik II established his irst “palace”, little more than a cottage the humble remains of which are today occupied by peasant families who worship a few metres away at St Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church.

The head of the church emerges from the octagonal building painted brown, green and yellow, to bestow blessings on Gebrselassie for his forthcoming Olympic campaign.

The modern Emperor of athletics hurriedly makes himself more presentable, grabbing an adidas tracksuit from his Mercedes C180, an incongruity among the poverty in the world’s second poorest nation after Mozambique.

Most of his countrymen scrape by on about $12 a month. The “departure tax” from Addis Ababa airport is US$20.

According to World Bank statistics per capita income in Ethiopia averages less than $120 a year and Gebrselassie’s humble origins on the land suggest if not for athletics he had little prospect of elevating himself financially.

Yet Gebrselassie already owned two Mercs - prizes offered by the International Amateur Athletic Federation to gold medallists at the 1993 and 1995 world championships - before he even knew how to drive.

These days he is adept behind the wheel as he navigates around the countless pot-holes in the Entoto Road and a flood of humanity, mostly women and children, and their tiny donkeys all laden with bundles of eucalyptus branches.

All roads in Addis Ababa are in poor repair, including Entoto which is one of the few bituminous roads.
The US Embassy is situated at its base, almost opposite a university catering for 12,000 students. Nearby is the superb but under-resourced national museum which exhibits the fossilised remains of 3.5 million years old “Lucy,” once the world’s oldest hominid. Another 4.4m years old has recently been discovered, also in Ethiopia.

It is an ancient land struggling to sustain anancient people, perhaps the source of humankind.

And Ethiopia’s 3000 years old Solomonic dynasty claims descent from King Menelik I, believed to have been the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.
They made their home in the northern city of Aksum. It is there where religious leaders are said to be guarding the Arc of the Covenant. And it is from Aksum that a variation of Coptic Christianity spread across Ethiopia and was adopted by 40 per cent of her 59m people, including the devout Haile Gebrselassie.

As photographer Anthony Weate and I are treated to a banquet lunch in his modest home, the display cabinets along two walls of his dining room are crammed with all manner of medals and awards.

But conspicuous by it’s absence is his most precious memento: his solitary Olympic gold medal earned on bloodied feet for winning the 10,000m in Olympic record time four years ago in Atlanta.

“I gave it to my church,” Gebrselassie admits after some impolite prodding from his guests.
"I made a promise to God that if I win a gold medal in Atlanta I will give it to the church.
“The next one I will keep because maybe the onefrom Sydney will be a very special one. How does it look?”

It is another SOCOG secret, we advise. “Good. I’m happy it’s a big secret,” Gebrselassie says and his warm brown eyes are forced shut by the broadest smile in the premier Olympic sport.

Gebrselassie’s face is the best known in his country where he is revered - in the words of a former sports minister “as a small God in Ethiopian society” - especially by those who have watched him endure his pain for over a decade on the steep and winding 5km road up to Entoto.

“My hardest training session is the one when I train in the mountain, when I run up the Entoto Road. Sometimes we repeat three times, mostly just two times,” he said as the housemaid to his beautiful wife, Alem, and nanny to their first child, daughter Aden, roasts and then grinds and brews an excellent Ethiopian coffee for us.

"We jog down and race back up. The best uphill is between 17 and 18 minutes. Once I did 16min and 30sec. It’s high altitude, a very bad road and very steep.

“The jog back down takes longer than going up, sometimes 20mins because it’s hard on the legs going down. But the uphill runs must be the same time, both must be 17mins.”

This training was the basis of his becoming, in 1995, the first man since Kenya’s Henry Rono in the late 1970s to hold both the 5000m and 10,000m world records concurrently and in 1998 he joined the Czech legend Emil Zatopek and Australia’s own Ron Clarke as the only man to break the 10,000m world record three times.

Gebrselassie runs on average 25km each day in a consuming year-round training program which includes one session each week running to the church on top of Entoto.

It was at the behest of Menelik II’s wife that the Emperor came down from Entoto to construct his new capital, calling it Addis Ababa - “New Flower.”

Upon his death, his daughter Zauditu ascended to the throne in 1917 and ruled with the help of Ras Tafari (“Rastafari”), the son of Menelik’s cousin.

When Zauditu died in 1930 Tafari became Emperor, adopting the name Haile Selassie. In 1972 and 1973 severe drought led to famine in the northeast and in 1974 the Emperor was deposed in a military coup.

The new government, under Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam, instituted Marxist policies, reclaimed huge farming estates from the nobility and routinely assassinated opponents of his regime over the next 17years.

In the mid 1980s another severe drought devastated parts of Ethiopia and thousands more died as a consequence of the dictator’s actions. In1991, during yet another famine, a rebel People’s Army defeated Mengistu who fled in 1992 and has since lived in Zimbabwe under president Robert Mugabe’s protection.

Mengistu is currently being tried in absentia oncharges of “genocide and crimes against humanity” for forcing 750,000 Ethiopians into exile, killing 200,000, leaving 45,000 children orphaned and 60,000 crippled by starvation.

“Have you heard of the Blood Terror?” Gebrselassie enquires. “That was a very bad moment.”

It is against this background of cyclical famine, grinding poverty, disastrous social engineering and murderous insurrections that the young Gebrselassie somehow emerged in 1992 to win the 5000m and 10,000m at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Seoul.

Four years earlier, Ethiopia and Cuba were the only nations to boycott the Seoul Olympics in support of communist North Korea’s idiotic insistence they be awarded half of the Games.

Despite Ethiopia’s stayaway, the 1988 Games proved inspirational to Gebrselassie who recalls watching the Opening and Closing Ceremonies on television at a bar in the town of Arsella, some 10km from his village of Dara in the region of Arssi, a fertile farming are a 3000m above sea level.

He listened to some of the races on a battery radio: “Electric radio is impossible in my village. In Arsella there is everything, but in Dara there is still no electricity, no water. If you want water in Dara you must go to the river.”

Gebrselassie started formal training in 1989 under the direction of his older brother Tekeye, one of 10 children in the family. Haile was the seventh-born in the mud hut built by his farmer father, Gebrselassie Bikila.

But Haile had made up his mind years earlier to become a runner after listening to radio reports from the 1980 Moscow Olympics where Ethiopia’s Miruts Yifter - “Yifter The Shifter” - dominated the 5000m and 10,000m races with his devastating sprint finish.

"Moscow was my special moment. It was a special time to love athletics because of Yifter. But I had no chance to start running until 1989.It was then that Tekeye started training and racing.

"I had so much enthusiasm in my body and when he said let’s run together I said, ‘Oh great!’

“We went training once and I was a bit tired -everywhere. I cannot tell you how I looked at that moment. After a few days everything was fine again and I started running again.”

Tekeye himself is today a respected international marathon runner with a best time of 2hrs 11min 45sec. He emigrated to Holland where he has citizenship, but he frequently returns to Ethiopia where he trains with Haile.

“I first heard him say he wanted to be an Olympic champion in 1980. I laughed,” Tekeye said as he towelled down after a gruelling circuit session in the weight-training gym at the Addis Ababa Hilton.

"He told me he will show me: ‘I will be the winner of the world, top the world record,’ he told me.

“When he was young he was quite interesting. He was very active. He liked everything: music, sport. He liked running. What makes him special is his heart and his mind. His heart is very strong, his mind is very active.”

Like so many children in Africa, Haile travelled long distances daily by foot to and from school unknowingly building the endurance base 3000m above sea level which would enable him to become a great athlete.

“I had to run the 10km from my village at Dara to school every day in Arsella because it was impossible to drive a car. You have to cross five rivers, but not such big ones,” Gebrselassie advised.

"So every day, Monday to Friday, I had to run because, you know, when you wake up at 6 o’clock you have to wash, you have to prepare and maybe you have one hour of time to go.

“Things are very difficult when you have to be there in one hour, especially because the path is not like a road. It’s a bit of a hill going toschool and there were the rivers. That I did for 10 years.”

The same year (1989) he started formal running training Gebrselassie actually ran a marathon in 2hrs 48min in Addis Ababa, at the age of 15! It was also the first time he saw electricity!

"I just had my first race. It was over 1500m and I won. Immediately after that I came to Addis Ababa because Tekeye wanted to compete in the marathon.

"When I arrived there was no competition for me, only the marathon. I didn’t want to go back home to Dara (180km south-east of Addis Ababa) without a competition. My brother was very strong, very experienced. I was not so good.

"I started with them and I finished very badly.The winner finished in 2hrs 17min and my brother was second in 2:18. But between me and the first was a big difference, 30mins and I placed 99th. You can say 100.

“I was very tired, like exhausted. It was really a very bad moment. As soon as I reached the finish line I could not walk anymore and all my body became terrible, you know? I have no words for it.”
So, like the patriarchs of Ethiopian sport - Olympic gold medallists Abebe Bikila and Mamo Wolde - Gebrselassie came to note in the marathon and he intends to run down that road again some day.

It was in fact Emperor Haile Selassie who was indirectly responsible for Ethiopia’s Olympic distance running tradition when in the late1950s he embraced an offer from the Swedish Army to train his Imperial Guard.

The Swedes had long been proponents of a style of running training called “fartlek” (speed-play) and when this was introduced as routine conditioning in combination with the 2,500m high altitude in Addis Ababa, a Swedish Army Major, Oni Niskanen, pioneered the successful European coaching insurgence into Africa.

In 1960 the previously unknown Abebe Bikila, a member of the Imperial Guard, competed in the Rome Olympics and won the marathon, the first black African Olympic champion.

Had it been known he clocked 2hrs 21min 23sec the previous month in Addis Ababa, Bikila might not have been so completely overlooked in pre-race predictions.

At night on a road lit by Italian soldiers carrying flaming torches, barefoot Bikila devised his final assault to start 1km from the finish - ironically at an obelisk looted from Aksum, birthplace of the Solomonic dynasty.

Four years later Bikila did it again, this time wearing shoes to win the marathon at the Tokyo Games in a world record 2hrs 12mins 12sec despite having an appendectomy just six weeks earlier.

He went to Mexico City for his third Olympics in1968, dropping out injured after 17km. But Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Mamo Wolde backed up to retain the marathon for Ethiopia.

It was an amazing progression for Wolde who competed at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics racing in Ethiopia’s 4x400m relay and placingl ast in his heat of the 800m and 1500m.

But, like Bikila, Wolde’s journey would plunge into darkness. Bikila became a paraplegic in 1969 after crashing the volkswagon given to him by Haile Selassie for his second Olympic victory.

He died in 1973, just months before the 3000 year Solomonic dynasty was terminated by the Mengistu Haile-Mariam coup, the octagenarian Emperor escaping from his palace - in a VW beetle.

Wolde was swept up in the Blood Terror. A member of the Armed Forces he has languished in prison in Addis Ababa since 1993, accused of killing a man but reportedly still awaiting trial.

"His case is not so good because they say he killed someone during the Blood Terror,’’ Gebrselassie said. ``The man was injured by somebody else and when Mamo Wolde passed that guy, the man asked him, ‘Mamo Wolde: finish me!’

"And Mamo Wolde, it is said he was a little bit drunk and he didn’t think about his action, how it looks, and they said he killed him. They said it was that way. It is really complicated.

“The other man was not a soldier, but he was nearly dead. He was in very bad shape.”

So Bikila is dead, Wolde in prison, Yifter fled four years ago to Canada and Ethiopia’s only other male Olympic medallist, Moscow 10,000m third-placer Mohammed Kedir has fled to the Netherlands.

Even Gebrselassie’s own brother, Tekeye, has moved out but the fifth pillar of Ethiopian men’s athletics stays put even though he has been granted permanent residence in the Netherlands.

Now again, in the first year of a new millennium yet another famine of Biblical proportions is threatening Ethiopia and perhaps therein lies the answer as to why Haile refuses to run away.

“Yeah, for me it’s very difficult to stay outside the country. Ethiopia is very special for me. I like to stay here. I like to share all the problems the people have. I don’t want to leave my country,” he softly declares.

"Here in Ethiopia our mentality is different to that in other countries. Here it is impossible to live without your people, without your family, without your friends.

"When you have something, you have to help other people. I can live in Holland, in America or anywhere in the world but a very important question is how life looks without friends, without your people.

“Most of our people are poor and you have to help the ones who don’t have a father or mother. I look at other people around me: who needs money, who needs shelter?”

According to a 1996 report by Pat Butcher who interviewed his Dutch manager, Jos Hermens, himself a former world class distance runner, Gebrselassie earned nearly $500,000 in 1995 alone and he signed a contract with adidas worth $1m through to the end of 2000.

On the athletics results front, and presumably therefore also on the income ledger, the next three years were each better for Haile than 1995.

It is easy to see therefore why Gebrselassie is reluctant to confirm his elevated status in the police force by spending six months cloistered ina police academy.

He started running for the police athletics clubi n Assela on a cadet’s wage of $20 a month and worked his way up through the ranks of sport and the constabulatory simultaneously.

“I became a major immediately after the AtlantaOlympic Games,” Gebrselassie revealed.

"After winning (his fourth world title) in Seville they were talking about making me a lieutenant-colonel. It’s not official, although I’ve started receiving the salary already.

"The police employed me as a runner. That’s also acomplicated thing because I’m already a high authority, a high official. That’s why they’re talking a lot about ‘he’s not working as a police officer.’

“If I become a lieutenant-colonel I have to be in the police college and learn a bit about the rules. It’s very difficult to do a thing like that.You must be six months there at the police college. I have no time.”

Perhaps when he retires from the track, although he is already set for a life in athletics beyond competition by supporting 35 young runners in his Global adidas club.

The club occupies one floor of Gebrselassie’s seven-storey commercial building on the bustling Asmera Road. Construction is also underway on an eight-storey complex, further indication of Gebrselassie’s financial stake in the future of Ethiopia.

“The outside world knows Ethiopia as being simplya very poor country with famine, war, internal conflicts and nothing else. All these problems are not God-given and can only be solved by our own efforts,” he said.

“Everyone of us, irrespective of where we live, has a national duty for our country. Ethiopia is today and will always be our responsibility and nobody else’s. So I choose to stay home because I can make a difference here.”

Tekeye Gebrselassie looks across at his little brother, admiringly: "He’s a good one. He’s honest. He likes the Ethiopian people and they like him, they support him.

“He likes his country. Yeah, he loves his country.”

Superb kitkat1

I am a very lucky man to have met him (after London’s marathon in 2006). All the best to him in whatever he chooses to do from now on!

Maybe, if I can find it, I will post my report when I went to Kenya to catch up with Paul Tergat - the great champion who helped make Haile an even greater champion. Their rivalry from 10,000m to cross-country and the marathon is the stuff of legend. I had a late breakfast at Paul’s home in Nairobi after driving along the Rift Valley in his 4WD trying to keep up with him on his morning run. Needless to say, the vehicle became bogged in the mud but I thought I did a brilliant job staying the course for as long as I did, which was about an hour. In the end Paul had to turn back to the rescue. LOL :slight_smile:

Great article Kitkat! Now would be a good time to tell you that I appreciate all of your posts. Articles and interviews about track that I don’t find anywhere locally.
Please keep it up!

Great article Kitkat! Now would be a good time to tell you that I appreciate all of your posts. Articles and interviews about track that I don’t find anywhere locally.
Please keep it up!


By Kitkat

Kilometre after kilometre deep into nomadic Masai territory along the deeply rutted mud sludge he called a road, Paul Tergat maintained a light-footed cadence.
At last, after more than an hour running in what was little better than quicksand along the floor of the Great Rift Valley, he finally stopped in frustration.

Not because he was tired. If he was, it didn’t show.

He quit because his $100,000 all-terrain vehicle equipped with GPS satellite navigation could no longer keep up.

The top-of-the-range Toyota Land Cruiser I had driven nervously in pursuit - dove-tailing to avoid boulders, surging across fast-flowing streams and tilting at 45 degrees trying to grip embarkments - had at last become bogged.

So Tergat turned back to the rescue. He had demonstrated once again why he is regarded as the greatest cross-country runner the world has ever seen.

No other man has won the annual IAAF 12km World Cross-Country Championship five years in a row as Tergat did from 1995 to 1999.


Among distance runners the world cross-country race is considered the hardest event to win because it brings the best road runners up against the best track runners on neutral ground, so to speak.

In March this year Tergat managed to finish a close third, just two seconds behind Belgium’s victorious Mohammed Mourhit.

Under the circumstances it was actually an extraordinary result for Tergat.

He had barely slept before the race after arguing all night with the perennially bungling Kenyan Amateur Athletics Association about their 11th hour deletion of his training partner Joshua Chelanga (fourth in last year’s race).

“I have not had any sleep over the last one or two days. It was light when I finally went to bed on the morning of the race,” Tergat confirmed, before calling for the KAAA administrators to be dismissed by the Kenyan Government.

“Usually we have little problems which we can sort out back home but we have never brought them to a major championship like this.”

Having nevertheless led Kenya to its 15th! consecutive teams title, comfortably outscoring northern neighbour and bitter rival Ethiopia, Tergat stayed on in Portugal for the Lisbon Half-Marathon (a road race over 21.1km).

As if to prove he had been ready a week earlier to win an unprecedented sixth world cross-country title, a rested Tergat took 11sec off his own half-marathon world record in Lisbon clocking 59min 06sec.

He also took an entire minute off Arturio Barrios’ 20km world track best on record in transit to collecting the half-marathon record bonus of $100,000.

It was a phenomenal display of staying power, previewed on the muddy road from Ngong, 45km outside Nairobi and 2,500m above sea level, where photographer Anthony Weate and I caught up with Tergat on his journey toward the Sydney Olympic Games.

He is a feared and respected rival for the Olympic 10,000m title-holder and Sydney favourite Haile Gebrselassie, the little Ethiopian who may confirm himself as history’s greatest track long distance runner if he can win the 5000m-10,000m double in September.

If anyone can stop Gebrselassie it could be Tergat, the 10,000m silver medallist at the last Olympics and at the last two world championships in 1997 and 1999.

His Kenyan 10,000m record of 26min 27.85sec was the world record in 1997 before Gebrselassie reclaimed it in 1998 with a run of 26:22.75.

“I respect Haile quite a lot, really, because the training I am doing is very hard so I can imagine how hard he is training too,” said Tergat, pledging to be in Sydney.

"So I respect him a lot because I know he is not an athlete who likes to sit down and wait for a good result. No. He’s very strong.

"But he’s no Superman. He’s a human being and anything is possible. Anyway, I don’t believe anything is impossible. I believe it is possible to beat him.

"In life you find everybody has his time. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you train, you can find sometimes that day is not your day. No matter how hard you try you will not get something that day.

“I don’t believe in bad luck. I believe in keeping working, but the timing has to come in also.”

A sleek and elegant Kalenjin man born 30 years ago in a mud hut to one of his polygamous father’s three wives, Tergat comes originally from the tiny village of Riwo in the Baringo district perched on a sheer precipice overhanging the Rift.

Iten, the current centre of critical mass for Kenya’s world beating distance runners, is a hazy view 50km away on the escarpment directly across the valley.

Tergat’s father loved athletics and attended every local championship but he never realised he had a talent in his own family until Paul was conscripted into the Kenya airforce in 1990 at the age of 19.

Many Kenyans ran many kilometres to school, but this was not the case with me. Where we live was not more than 800m from the school," he recalled.

"The other problem where I lived was I didn’t have any kind of motivation. There were no local athletes. I didn’t have anybody to idolise.

“I never had an interest in athletics until I trained for the military. It was then I came to realise life was not easy. I met guys like John Ngugi, Richard Chelimo, Moses Kiptanui, Moses Tanui, William Tanui (all world champions) in the military so training with them was a big lesson for me.”

Tergat today is a sergeant in the air force, but athletics has made him a millionaire. He is also now a successful businessman with an office in Nairobi from where he has supervised the construction of “quite a number” of buildings, both commercial and residential.

To ensure that young Kenyans, so often isolated as he was, can be in touch with the deeds of contemporary champions Tergat also publishes, in partnership with Moses Tanui, an informative and entertaining 40-page colour magazine called “The Athlete.”

Tanui, incidentally, has his own reasons for hoping Tergat succeeds in Sydney. Moses did not successfully defend his 1991 world 10,000m title, finishing with silver in the 1993 Stuttgart final after losing a shoe when accidentally clipped at the bell by Gebrselassie.

It was the first of Gebrselassie’s four world titles and he has remained undefeated over the 25-lap distance in the seven years since.

Tanui was so upset the KAAA would not officially back his protest over the Gebrselassie incident he has subsequently refused to represent Kenya.

He turned to the marathon, winning Boston in 1996 and 1998 and was second, in a Kenyan record 2hrs 06min 16sec, to Khalid Kannouchi in the miscreant Moroccan’s world record 2:05:42 victory in Chicago late last year.

Tanui has recently indicated he may recant and run the road race in Sydney - if the KAAA picks him.

Both Tergat and Tanui have been coached since around 1993 by Dr Gabriele Rosa, an eminent Italian exercise physiologist who says he has been devising a test for detecting EPO, the endurance drug of choice.

“I may finish my track and field career in Sydney but it is still my plan to try the marathon,” Tergat said, although he ruled out a road run to Homebush.

"By the way, I think running the marathon is not as tough as the track. You must have very hard workouts for the track.

“It’s very tough and very monotonous also. At least for the marathon you can change courses.”

While Tergat was undecided about whether to chase Kenyan Olympic team selection also in the 5000m, he showed in the 1999 Rome Golden League race he could actually be a Sydney title contender.

The 1997 world champion, former world record-holder and fellow Kenyan, Daniel Komen, won in Rome (in 12min 55.16sec). Tergat ran a near second in 12:55.37.
But Tergat defeated all three men who would place at the Seville world championships which followed a month later, including Morocco’s gold medallist Salah Hissou (by 0.02sec!), Kenya’s silver medallist Benjamin Limo and the bronze medallist Mohammed Mourhit.

Generously cleared by the Moroccans last year to represent Belgium when they could find no place for him in their own team, Mourhit won this year’s world cross-country title, so he too is now an obvious medal contender in Sydney.

Tergat had previously placed fourth in the 1999 Kenyan 5000m selection trial and ran only the 10,000m in Seville, his 55.0sec last lap no match for Gebrselassie’s lethal 54.37sec sprint.

Such superlative racing is the consequence of constant and sometimes brutal training.

Tergat nominated his toughest track session as 10 times 1000m in 2min 36sec to 2min 33sec, usually with 2min to 3min recovery between repetitions.

"But when you are starting this you must make sure you are ready, otherwise you will destroy yourself.

“And you must do this when you have enough time to recover, with a month to go because you must have at least two weeks to recover.”

To that end Tergat continued to build his incredible strength for Sydney by running along the muddy roads of the Rift Valley, happily since unencumbered by his Australian passengers.


I hope you can see this video.


“Now it is time for me to think about a lot of things.I still love running. I will always run. Just give me some time to think things over
11:35 AM Nov 9th via web”

Haile’s top ten moments

Following Haile Gebrselassie’s emotional retirement from the sport after his disappointing failure to finish last Sunday’s New York Marathon spikesmag.com decided to pay tribute to the
greatest distance runner in history. Of course, speculation is now rife he could reverse his decision, so we unveil the ten greatest achievements in Haile’s career, so far?

1993 – World Championships Stuttgart, Germany Aug 22 10,000m

The race which announced to the world the incredible potential of Haile. In a bizarre finale the Ethiopian accidentally trod on the shoe of long-time leader Moses Tanui with a little under 400m to go. Tanui angrily kicked off the dislodged shoe and burst into a 10m lead before Haile slowly reeled him in down the home straight to strike gold by 0.52 in 27:46.02. It was the first of his four successive world 10,000m titles.

1995 – Zurich, Switzerland Aug 16 5000m

Earlier that summer Gebrselassie has hacked nine seconds from the world 10,000m record in Hengelo but arguably his greater achievement that year came in Zurich when he sliced a staggering 10.91 seconds from Moses Kiptanui’s world 5000m record in Zurich. He recorded a time of 12:44.39 – a time which still stands as the sixth fastest of all-time today.

1996 – Olympic Games Atlanta, USA Jul 29 10,000m

Overcoming blisters from the hard track surface in Atlanta, Haile struck his first Olympic gold medal in an epic encounter with his great rival Paul Tergat. In a scenario which was to become the norm for much of their careers, Haile managed to outkick Tergat over the final lap to take gold by 0.83 in an Olympic record time of 27:07.34

1997 – Zurich, Switzerland Aug 13 5000m

Some twelve months after Haile suffered defeat to rising Kenyan star Daniel Komen at this same meeting, the Ethiopian exacted revenge in spectacular fashion. The world’s greatest ever distance runner on this occasion simply blew the world 5000m champion away. Haile ran a staggering final 200m in 26.8 and lowered his own world record by more than two-and-half seconds in 12:41.86.

1998 – Hengelo, Holland Jun 1 10,000m

Haile enjoyed, argubaly, the finest year in his track career in 1998 and began his season with a bang in Hengelo. Running back-to-back 5000m in splits of 13:11/13:11 the diminutive Ethiopian ran clear of the field to slice more than five seconds from Paul Tergat’s world 10,000m record. Haile’s time of 26:22.75 still remains his quickest ever for 10,000m and is still the third quickest in history for the 25-lap distance.

1998 – Helsinki, Finland Jun 13 5000m

Later that summer Haile also recorded his fastest ever 5000m with a blistering 12:39.36 clocking to chip 0.38 from Daniel Komen’s world record. Passing four laps to go in 8:40.00 the Ethiopian superstar needed to draw on all his reserves to record a sub-four minute final 400m to snatch the record. It still stands second on the all-time lists today.

1999 – World Indoor Championships Maebashi, Japan Mar 5-7 1500m and 3000m

Haile demonstrated his incredible versatility over a range distances by completing the 1500m and 3000m double in the three-day global indoor championship. He landed victory over the metric mile in a championship record 3:33.77 by 0.21 from Kenya’s Laban Rotich and the Ethiopian also secured victory in the 3000m in 7:53.57. He is still the only man in history to complete this double at a World Indoor Championships.

2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 10,000m Sept 25

Some would say the defining moment of Haile’s career came on ‘Magic Monday’ in Sydney. Struggling with an Achilles problem in the lead up to the Games he was locked in an epic head-to-head with his old rival Paul Tergat. The Kenyan completed the final 200m in 26.3 but Haile trumped him to complete the final half-lap in just 25.4 to secure victory in the final stride. He successfully defended his Olympic title by just 0.09 – less than the victory margin in the men’s 100m - in a time of 27:18.20.

2007 Berlin, Germany Marathon Date: Sept 30

Now reinvented as a marathon runner Haile also proved his greatness over the 26.2-mile distance to lower the world record mark of his old sparring partner Paul Tergat by some 29 seconds. He stopped the clock in 2:04:26 and achieved this by running a staggering second half in sub-62 minutes.

2008 Berlin, Germany Marathon Date: Sept 28

Twelve months after first breaking the world marathon record mark he repeated the feat on the streets of the German capital with another extraordinary run. On this occasion he became the first man in history to run a sub 2:04 marathon (in 2:03:59) at an eye-popping average speed of 4:44 per mile for the 26.2-mile distance.

It’s humbling to consider the fact that none of us are likely to witness another athlete of his character or ability in our lifetimes.

Athlete Haile G.Sellasie officially announced a comeback
Written by Ben
Sunday, 14 November 2010 08:52 for Ethiosports.com

(By: Ben - From Nekemte, Wollega) - Over a week ago Haile declared a quit in New York. However, today (Nov 14, 2010) Athlete Haile announced a comeback in the city of Nekemte, Wollega.

Haile was one of the honorary guests at the “Great Run in Nekemete” to help the fundraise activities to build Wollega Stadium. He urged all to partake for the completion of the stadium. The climax of the event was when he declared his decision to comeback to professional running. The mood was extraordinary and everyone seems happy.

Go Haile Go!!!

Welcome back, our Hero! Yechalal …… (Ben)

Gebrselassie renegs on retirement
One week after making an emotional and stunning announcement that he was retiring from the sport, marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie has apparently had a change of heart according to several reports out of Ethiopia.
By Joe Battaglia, Universal Sports | Posted: Nov 14, 5:17p ET | Updated: Nov 14, 5:30p ET
Related to this article
Marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie has changed his mind one week after announcing his retirement according to reports out of Ethiopia.

The website EthiopiaFirst.com, Gebrselassie announced that he will return to running while giving a speech at the “Great Run in Nekemete,” a fundraiser for the Wollega Stadium. Ethiopian Television Sports confirmed the report (video in Amharic), as did the website EthioSports.com.

An e-mail to Gebrselassie’s Netherlands-based manager Jos Hermens was not returned at the time of this article’s posting.

After pulling out of the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 7 due to a knee injury, Gebrselassie made a tearful proclamation during a press conference that his running career was over.

“I myself I don’t want to complain anymore after this, which means it’s better to stop here,” Gebrselassie said at the time. “I never think about to retire. But for the first time, this is the day. Let me stop and do other work after this. Let me give a chance for the youngsters.”

But that stance was already softening at the beginning of the week. Before boarding a plane to meet his client at home in Addis Ababa, Hermens told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the 37-year-old Gebrselassie, “was already a lot more neutral” about calling it a career after 20 years.

“If he takes his time, and he takes some time off with the family, I am sure that Haile will say, ‘From my heart, I want to run,’” Hermens told AP. “I already felt his first doubts.”

It is presumed that if Gebrselassie returns to running, his primary goal would be to run the marathon at the London Olympics in 2012.

“London will be very tough, but a medal is certainly not excluded,” Hermens said in the AP interview. “Even if you finish your career with a bronze, that is still fantastic.”