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Haile Gebrselassie

Haile Gebrselassie

Haile Gebrselassie is an Ethiopian long distance runner and was born on April 18, 1973 in Asella, Arsi Province, Ethiopia. He now lives in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. It would seem that the talent runs in the family – no pun intended! Gebrselassie’s  older brother is an international marathon runner and his younger brother is also showing talent for the sport of running.

Geb is the nickname given to Haile by people who know him well. When he was a child, he grew up on a farm which was 10km from his school. The only way he could get there was on foot, so every day, he ran the entire 10km to school, and the same things again to go home. This is how he realised he had a talent for running. 

In 1992, Haile won the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre running races in that year’s Junior World Championships in Seoul, South Korea, which is when light was first shed on his talents. The same year he won a silver medal in the Junior Race at the World Cross Country Championships. Then in 1993, Haile won the World Championships Men’s title for the 10,000 metre race. A year later, he became a world record holder after running a 5,000 metre race in just 12:56.96.

In 1995, Haile left spectators open-mouthed when he ran the 5,000 metres in an astounding 12:44.39 at the Weltklasse Meet in Zürich, Switzerland. This was a new world record which was previously held by Kiptanui from Kenya. The following year Haile ran at the Atlanta Olympics, where he won his first Olympic gold medal for winning the 10,000 metre race.

Since then Haile has been unstoppable. In 1998, Haile Gebrselassie set the 10,000 metre world record by running the distance in just 26:22.75 in Hengelo, Netherlands. He continued on with his astonishing performances when in 2000, he won every race that he ran in, and came first in the 5,000 and 10,000 metre races. He then participated in the Sydney Olympics the same year. He won gold again, and became the third runner ever to keep an Olympic 10000 metre title.

Later he ran the London Marathon and took third place. At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he didn’t manage to win the 10,000 metre race. He then stopped competing on the track. A year later, he remained unbeatable in every single road race that he ran.

2006 started as an excellent year for Haile, when he beat the world record for a half marathon, which he broke in the United States. In the same competition, he also became the world record holder of the  20 kilometre title. As if that wasn’t enough for one year, he went on to break the 25 kilometre world record.

In 2007, he made ran the New York City Half Marathon and won. Haile did not participate in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing because the pollution levels were so high. He has also been in the film called Endurance, which is the story of his life and achievements.

In 2010 he tried to attack his own world record for the third consecutive time at the Dubai Marathon 2010. Although he won the race with a time of 2:06:09, he failed to break his 18-month world record. In a post-race interview he revealed that he had suffered back pain, requiring intensive pre-race physiotherapy, resulting from having slept in a bad position.

In 2012, Gebrselassie ran in the Tokyo Marathon and, after surging to the lead and putting a gap on the field with 6 km to go, faded and finished in 4th, in a time of 2:08:17. However, he bounced back to win the Vienna Half Marathon in 1:00:52, catching Paula Radcliffe who was given a 7.52 minute head-start. He was not selected for the Olympic marathon team, but after winning the Manchester Run he decided to aim for a place in the 10,000 m.

Career Highlights

  • 2000 Sydney Olympics – Gold
  • 1996 Atlanta Olympics – Gold
  • World Championships – Gold (‘99,’97,’95,’93), Silver (’03,’93), Bronze (2001)

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