Haile comes to town

2011-10-08 19:29

Ethiopian marathon icon will do some charity work in South Africa

Marathon icon Haile Gebrselassie is coming back to the country for a three-day visit this week.

The Ethiopian long distance runner-cum-businessman’s trip is facilitated by his technical sponsor Adidas.

The 38-year-old hero was one of the celebrities conducting the 2010 Fifa World Cup draw in Cape Town in 2009.

The German sports goods manufacturing company told City Press that the 38-year-old was “definitely coming”.

“He will do some charity work during his trip, including visiting the Nelson Mandela Foundation,” confirmed Adidas South Africa PR and communications manager Zobuzwe Ngobese.

“He is a long-time partner of our brand and we are proud to bring a legend to our shores.”

In 2009 the company also invited French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane to the country.

Meanwhile, Gebrselassie was forced to pull out of the Berlin Marathon in Germany two weeks ago, the second time he failed to finish a race after a knee injury forced him off the 2010 New York Marathon.

He cited a respiratory problem in a race that was won by Kenya’s Patrick Makau, who bettered Gebrselassie’s world record by 21 seconds.

The dream of chasing his first gold medal in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics forced Gebrselassie to reconsider his decision to retire last year.

He is yet to qualify for the Games, but he said in an interview recently that he had achieved one of his two goals in the marathon since he switched from the track to road events seven years ago.

“When I switched from 10 000m to the marathon, I was planning two achievements – the world record and the Olympic gold. I achieved one and I’m begging God for the other. If I achieve that, my career is full,” he told The Guardian in London.

Gebrselassie set a world record of 2:03.59 at the 2008 Berlin Marathon, shaving off 27 seconds from his own record.

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