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Haile Gebrselassie

Haile Gebrselassie winning the 10,000m in Sydney 2000Haile Gebreselassie (1973 -)

This Ethiopian distance running legend is undoubtedly the greatest distance runner of our time, Haile smashed world records 17 times.

He was the world record holder in 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres which are now held by countryman Kenenisa Bekele.

Haile was born in the province of Arsi in Central Ethiopia. Arsi is a fertile region in the central Ethiopian plateau that has produced great long-distant runners like Derartu Tulu, Fatuma Roba, and of course, Haile Gebreselassie.

Haile was inspired by his countrymen, the Ethiopian marathon legend, Abebe Bikila and also 5k and 10k Olympic gold medalist Miruts Yifter. As a child he had to run 10 kilometers a day each way to go and come back from school.

At age 16, without any formal training, he entered the Addis Ababa marathon, and finished in 2:42.

Haile rose to international prominence in 1992 when he won the 5000m and 10,000m World Junior championships. In 1993 at the Stuttgart World championships, he won the 10,000m and got second in the 5000m.

He set his first World Record in the 5000m in 12:56.96 in Hengelo, Holland in 1994. By breaking the 6 year old world record of Said Aouita.

By the time of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Gebrselassie was the reigning world record holder at 10,000m and the twice defending world champion.

It was expected that he would receive a serious challenge from cross-country champion Paul Tergat of Kenya and that is exactly what happened. Tergat and Gebrselassie pulled away from the rest of the field after 8000m. Gebreselassie tracked Tergat until the final lap and then surged ahead to win by six metres.

Gebrselassie and Tergat renewed their rivalry at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Again they left the rest of the runners behind and again Tergat led as they entered the final lap.

This time the finish was even closer, as Gebrselassie did not edge ahead of Tergat until the very last stride, in what would prove to be one of the most exciting finishes in Olympic history.

At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Haile Gebrselassie finished 5th in the 10,000m.

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International Amateur Athletics Federation

Ethiopian Athletics


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Last updated: 24-Apr-2005 9:45 PM

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