Haile Gebrselassie before the real,- BERLIN MARATHON: “I will run as fast as I can.”
“I will run as fast as I can, but I cannot say what time is possible,” said Haile Gebrselassie during a press conference for the real,- BERLIN MARATHON, where he will be competing on September 24 alongside 40,000 other runners. The 33-year-old exceptional runner from Ethiopia consciously avoided the words “world record” – he has missed that goal at his three previous attempts at the 42.195 km classic distance.
His Kenyan rival Paul Tergat holds the current world record, which he set winning the real,- BERLIN MARATHON in 2003 with a time of 2:04:55. It is no accident, however, that Haile Gebrselassie has chosen to compete in the race in Berlin. “I know, of course, that Berlin has a flat course upon which very fast times are possible,” the two-time (1996 and 2000) 10,000m Olympic gold medallist stated. He has set 21 world records in his career, the last of which was at the beginning of March with a time of 1:11:37 for the 25 km distance, which, however, has not been officially recognised.
The journey to Berlin was adventurous for Haile Gebrselassie. He had planned on participating in a 10 km race in Sicily on Saturday evening on his way to the German capital, but the 4-time 10,000 m world champion never arrived there. “The problem was that shortly before take-off a rabbit got caught in the engine. After already flying for an hour and forty minutes, the captain decided that we had to turn back and prepared for an emergency landing,” Haile Gebrselassie said, who as a result missed his connecting flight to Italy.
“It is too bad that I was not able to run the 10 km, but it was not decisive for my marathon preparation. And the only really important race for me is the real,- BERLIN MARATHON,” Haile Gebrselassie, said, who travelled to Germany specifically for the press conference. The Ethiopian’s current best time for the marathon is 2:06:20, which he achieved a year ago winning the Amsterdam Marathon. Not including one race as a 15-year-old with a time of 2:48, his other two marathons were run in London: in 2002 he came in third in 2:06:35, and this year he was ninth with a time of 2:09:05. “That was simply not my day in London this year,“ Haile Gebrselassie said, who also stated a year ago in Amsterdam: “I know that I can break the marathon world record – I just don’t know when it will happen.”
“After three races, I now have a better feeling for the marathon,” Haile Gebrselassie said. He will be facing the second-fastest marathon runner of all time in Berlin -- Sammy Korir (Kenya/2:04:56). “That is good for the spectators, for it will be an exciting race—that is less good for me. I hope that Sammy has trained hard, as I will be in top form.”
When questioned about the current doping cases in athletics, Haile Gebrselassie stated: “It is important that the perpetrators are caught so that the clean athletes are protected.” This kind of news is not pretty for the sport, he said, but at the same time it is important to convict those who are cheating.
Haile Gebrselassie, who won his first big title in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993, is giving no thought to ending his career. “As long as I am still the fastest during training, there is no reason to think about quitting. I have not set any date for myself. The 2008 Olympics are definitely part of my plan, however.”
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