Haile the king of running

2011-10-15 14:13

During his brief tour of South Africa this week, two-time Olympic champion and marathon icon Haile Gebrselassie speaks to Daniel Mothowagae.

South Africa’s long distance running:

I have competed with Hendrick Ramaala and many other South Africans before and the potential was there. There are state-of-the-art sports facilities, the training places but who is the next Ramaala? I can’t see anyone. Maybe this must be a wake-up call for South Africa.

Threats to his Olympic dream:
The Kenyans and Ethiopians are getting stronger. From South Africa, maybe Ramaala. I want to try one more time to qualify for London at the Tokyo Marathon (in February 2012).

His altered world record:

I knew someone would beat my record (2:03.59 set at the Berlin Marathon in 2008) and I expected it to come from the Kenyans. In future, records will be faster. Just last Sunday at the marathon in Eindhoven (Holland), they ran 2:05 and this used to be a difficult time to achieve.

In 10 years, it will be 2:02 and in 20 years it will be under two hours.

But if I qualify for the Olympics, I don’t care about the record, as what is important is to win a gold medal.

His business:

I like to work and sweat for my investments. My businesses include property, a lake resort and a Hyundai dealership in Ethiopia.

I am not motivated by money but I want to invest it in Ethiopian children’s education.

His church:
I believe in God and once a month I attend the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of St Mary.

This is where I find peace. I kept both my Olympic medals there (the gold medals he won in the 10?000m at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics) – it is part of my belief and I will do the same if I win one in London.

His daily schedule:

What I find difficult is finding the balance between business and sport. I have to cover a minimum of 210km a week and that is two sessions a day.

I start training at 5am, I am at the office from 9am-4.30pm. I then prepare for my second training session.

Remaining in Africa:

I was born in Africa. Why do I have to go elsewhere? Or it is because Africa is poor? Even for those (Africans) who are overseas, their minds are still in Africa.

Finishing the race:

I don’t put a limit on myself, but if I don’t win any more races, I will just quit.

» This interview was facilitated by Gebrselassie’s technical sponsors, Adidas

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